Canada to open next round of World Cup qualifying on turf in Vancouver

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Canada will open the next round of World Cup qualifying against Honduras at B.C. Place Stadium in November.

Canada Soccer confirmed the Nov. 13 Vancouver date at a news conference Monday, 30 years to the day that Canada defeated Honduras 2-1 in St. John’s, N.L., to qualify for the 1986 World Cup.

Canada has never been back to the tournament since.

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Twelve teams are left in the confederation covering North and Central America and the Caribbean in the penultimate round of qualifying for the 32-team World Cup in Russia in 2018.

Canada is in Group A with No. 26 Mexico, No. 81 Honduras and No. 107 El Salvador. Group B features No. 39 Costa Rica, No. 52 Jamaica, No. 59 Panama and No. 87 Haiti while Group C consists of the 28th-ranked Americans, No. 54 Trinidad and Tobago, No. 98 Guatemala, and No. 116 St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Canadian men, currently ranked No. 102 in the world, will continue with the fourth round of CONCACAF qualifying in El Salvador on Nov. 17.

Canada will then face Mexico twice in March 2016  — at home on March 25 and in Mexico on March 29. Group play will wrap up in September with games Sept. 2 in Honduras and Sept. 6 at home against El Salvador.

Canada Soccer did not announce where the other two Canadian home games would be played.

The top two countries in each group will advance to the final six-team hexagon round, where teams will play each other home and away. The top three teams in the hexagon will qualify for the 2018 World Cup with the fourth-place team advancing to an intercontinental playoff against an Asian team.

The November match will be Canada’s first men’s international match at B.C. Place since the stadium was refurbished in 2012. The game will be played on artificial turf, something Canada did in World Cup qualifying in 2008 in Toronto before BMO Field got real grass.  

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The turf at B.C. Place was replaced earlier this year in advance of the Women’s World Cup.

The Canadian men are 5-2-4 this season, having already disposed of No. 172 Dominica (6-0) and No. 128 Belize (4-1) in World Cup qualifying series.

Canada crashed out of contention in 2014 World Cup qualifying in an 8-1 humiliation at the hands of Honduras in San Pedro Sula in October 2012. The lopsided loss cost coach Stephen Hart his job.

Canada is 3-16-7 against Mexico, 6-10-5 against Honduras and 7-4-3 against El Salvador.

While Canadian coach Benito Floro conceded Mexico was a cut above, he said the other three teams in Group A will “have the same possibilities.”

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Canada has tied its last three home games with the Mexicans and is 1-1-3 in its last five meetings on Canadian soil. But it is 0-12-2 in Mexico where it has been outscored 43-4.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

 

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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