Edmonton — Before the Canadian men’s football team played against Costa Rica on Friday, John Herdman shared some of the wisdom he received from the NBA coach legend Phil Jackson earlier this week.
Striker Jonathan David had a memorable opportunity to break the game. His 57-minute goal beat Canada 1-0 to Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying in front of 48,806 fans at Commonwealth Stadium.
Costa Rican goalkeeper Leonel Moreira scored a goal after a cross was put into the penalty area and David threw the ball home.
With the victory, Canada remained in third place in the CONCACAF octagonal. Canada scored 13 points in seven games (3-0-4) and Costa Rica fell to 1-3-3. Mexico and the United States each lead with 14 points.
Canada will host Mexico at the same venue on Tuesday.
“We are one point from the beginning and we know what our ambitions are,” said Calgarian full-back Sam Adekugbe, who Hardman identified as the best player.
The top three teams in the ranking will qualify for the World Cup in Qatar next year. The 4th place team will participate in the intercontinental playoffs.
Moreira started for Costa Rica due to the injury of Keylor Navas, a regular starter of Paris Saint-Germain.
The goal came minutes after a jumping bike kick by Canadian winger Tajon Buchanan froze Moreira on his track, but the ball hit the bar – the Canadian second in the game woodworking. I found it in Canada.
The first close call was made in 15 minutes. A corner kick from local hero Alphonso Davies entered the Costa Rican defender’s scrum and bounced off the crossbar.
This is the first time Davis has played a competitive game in Edmonton since his early teens. Many of the fans were there to welcome him home, and Canadian football announced that the crowd was the third largest in a men’s national team match on Canadian lands.
“The atmosphere was electrical and absolutely electrical,” Herdman said. “At the big moment of the game, the fans were with us for all of them.”
However, throughout the first half, Bayern Munich stars were regularly crowded with a few defenders each time they approached the ball. He confirmed the goal in the 15th minute, but the shot was blocked thanks to the slide of defender Oscar Duarte.
Davis had another chance in the 66th minute, but he blew up a shot over the bar. When Davis was asked if he would overdo it in front of his home fans, Hardman immediately defended the star.
“What fans want is a fonzie on the ball,” he said. “The other thing they want from him is dribbling. I’m not going to rob him of it.
“Give him his moment on a night like this.”
Herdman has guaranteed fans will see a much better version of Davies at home match against Mexico on Tuesday.
Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suarez said through an interpreter, “We participated in this match with a plan to win it.” “One of the things we have to improve is our crime. When we got the ball, we missed a chance.”
Costa Rica’s best chance was 34 minutes. Justin Saras’s volley has driven Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan to a dive stop.
A few seconds later, Saras rejoined the mix. The majority of fans in attendance demanded that American referee Ismail Elfas be penalized after Saras put David in a box and defeated him, but Elfas dismissed the appeal. David was played with a great through ball from Adekubuge.
“We are siblings here,” said Adekugube. “We sacrifice ourselves for shirts.”
Twice in the first half, after the foul, the team gathered in Scrum to add a bit of heat to the encounter in the chilly 1C weather.
The first match came after Canadian defender Richie Laryea won a yellow card by kicking Costa Rican attacker Jewison Francisco Bennette. Twenty-three minutes later, Bennett returned in favor and turned yellow after another quarrel with Laria.
Herdman admitted that Canada lost rhythm after the brawl, and Costa Rica managed to slow down the game with many restarts by playing low blocks.
The majority of Costa Rican teams had extended training camps before the match, but the Canadian team gathered in Edmonton earlier this week.
“It was a stubborn Costa Rican team who had been training at home for 10 days,” said Herdman.
Canadian defender Stephen Vitoria also saw yellow in the first half. Ricardo Blanco fouled Buchanan in the 70th minute to win Yellow.
Ike Ugbo made his debut in a Canadian jersey and appeared as a replacement for the 82nd minute. Former England youth international Ike Ugbo announced his intention to play in Canada last week.
NS Stephen Sharn