Friday, June 8, 2012

Canada Travels to Havana to Play Cuba in World Cup Qualifying

Canada has a great opportunity to set the tone for their World Cup Qualifying if they can get a win at Cuba today in Havana. Canada has not had great success in qualifying. In the 2010 World Cup Qualifying, Canada failed to record a win in the third stage.

Despite Canada’s mediocre 77th position in the latest FIFA Rankings, Stephen Hart’s club has their best chance to get the maximum three points on the road. Cuba is coming into Qualifying struggling mightily. Cuba is ranked 145th in the world which is by far the worst team reaming in the CONCACAF Qualification.

Both teams will be looking at this game similarly. Cuba won’t mind the draw because they feel that this is a winnable game for them. Canada is no soccer power and is very capable of laying an egg in a difficult environment.

Not only will Canada be going into a hostile Caribbean soccer environment, they will also be dealing with temperatures that the Canadians won’t be used too. Temperatures are expected to be in the 30’s tomorrow. Once the humidity is factored in it could be close to a 40-degree day. The conditions are just above the seasonal temperature for Cuba. When a team is struggling as much as Cuba is right now, they will take any break they can get their hands on. The further the game goes along, the more fatigued Canada will get.

In the past, today’s game would be a recipe for disaster. The images of Canada going on the road in World Cup Qualifying, are almost as scary as Saw I, II and III were combined.  Even if Canada were playing a winnable team, they would find a way to lay an egg at the worst time of the game.

However, today’s game isn’t a winnable game. It goes under the must win category.  Not picking up three points in the game today could become fatal towards then end of the group phase. Canada hasn’t won a meaningful third phase and beyond World Cup Qualifying road game since May 2nd 1993. At that time, Brian Mulroney was our Prime minister, Sidney Crosby was playing Timbits hockey and the Toronto Blue jays were defending World Series Champions.

Canada has a chance to do something they don’t do all that often, question is, will Stephen Hart have his team ready and prepared enough to avid the upset? I say yes, but only time will tell.

Today’s game is set for a 10:30amPT/1:30pmET start. The game will be on all four Sportsnet Channels. 

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