June 26 – Canada’s journey back towards Concacaf competitiveness continued with 3-0 home win over Haiti (4-0 on aggregate), taking them to the final round of World Cup Qualifying for the first time since France 98.
Canada will be joined Panama and El Salvador who overcame their Caribbean challengers St Kitts and Nevis and Curacao, to make it to the last eight group stage that will see the top three automatically qualify for Qatar 2022 and the fourth heading for an inter-continental play-off.
Canada’s win was a significant as they overcame the Haiti team that just two years ago bullied them out of the Gold Cup quarter finals. This time round the Canadians have clearly matured and strengthened their mental resolve.
Taking a 1-0 lead into the second leg, Canadian striker Jonathan David was a persistent threat though Haiti goalkeeper Josue Duverger kept them in the game. But the dam broke in the first minute of the second half, ironically via an own goal from Duverger. Canada were now in full control and scored again in the 74thminute via Larin, and in the 89thwhen Junior Hoilett followed up his own rebound to score.
The tightest match of the night was the Curacao vs Panama tie. Panama had a 2-1 lead going into the second leg but Curacao had an away goal to their advantage.
The first half was tense with Curacao having the majority of the scoring chances but unable to find a way past Panama goalkeeper Luis Mejia.
In the other goal Curacao keeper Eloy Room saved a penalty to keep it 0-0 in the 58thminute. That score remained the to end to see Panama through.
El Salvador brushed Saint Kitts and Nevis aside in San Salvador with a 2-0 win to add to their 4-0 first leg win. Joshua Perez and Gerson Mayen scored for El Salvador.
They now join Mexico, USA, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Honduras in the final 8-team qualifying group.
Commenting on the play-off rounds, Concacaf president Victor Montagliani said: “It is obvious to everyone that competitive levels are improving. We could have had a situation where four of the eight teams in the final round of World Cup qualifying were from the Caribbean. This has been a real opportunity for all the teams and are showing our improving competitiveness as a region.”
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