The outstanding questions about the World Cup for Canada must be answered in the September window

Sixty-eight days from now, Canada’s men’s team will face Belgium in their first World Cup match in 36 years.

But Canada only has three matches to prepare for the big dance. The first two matches will be against World Cup hosts Qatar on September 23, followed by Uruguay on September 27. These will be the first non-CONCACAF contenders since January 2020. red.

All of this is one more reason why the unveiling of Friday’s roster is so highly anticipated. In the end, 27 players They were called with some interesting names.

Most of the defensive players are back in the fold, with one exception being Joel Waterman, who replaced the injured Daniel Henry. Waterman has turned heads with FC Montreal this season as part of a defense that also includes fellow internationals Kemal Miller and Alistair Johnston.

Waterman’s distribution, positioning flexibility – he can play on the left or right side of three defenses – and comfort in a system already used by Canada coach John Herdman, make him a perfect call-up for this window. 26 years xGBBuildup And the accuracy of the scroll as reflected in his Statistical radar Below, back up these prompts.

However, Waterman is prone to strange hiccups defensively. When he was pushed high on the field with Montreal, he left the team exposed in the transition.

Watch number 16 in the video below.

But distribution is a huge weapon in Canada’s favour. Montreal’s build from the back is impressive and could help them take on opponents who will put pressure on the Canadian defenders up the field.

“He’s playing the game the right way,” Herdman said. “For him, can he now handle the family of Alphonso Davies, Kyle Larrain, and Jonathan David in these environments?

“We know there’s this move from MLS, and we’re ready to have Joel in this position for testing.”

Like Waterman, his Montreal teammate Ismail Kone was added to the midfield group due to injury. Captain Atiba Hutchinson is recovering from a pre-season bone bruise and is scheduled to return in late October. The national team medical staff plans to travel to Istanbul, where Hutchinson plays football for Besiktas, to monitor his progress.

In the meantime, Kony could benefit. Jonathan Osorio has ‘neurological dysfunction’ dating back to a concussion he suffered in mid-July. Marc Anthony Kay is still building match fitness too, so the 20-year-old midfielder could be the next man.

Then 19 and with a few professional appearances to his name, Kony Bright He made his Canadian debut in March against Costa Rica in the World Cup qualifiers. He’s now scored about 2,000 professional minutes and looks a lot more polished.

Kony’s breakthrough led to bids from English Premier League clubs Norwich City And the Sheffield United. Neither movement materialized, but the possibility is clear.

“I had the opportunity to speak to a colleague of mine who works at Norwich City and they have made a real in-depth evaluation of Ismail and feel similar to us,” Herdmann said. “He has level 1 potential. He has a chance to move forward in the global game.

“I think he showed, once again, some good form of him [Montreal]. His team is at a high level at the moment and you can see that it is difficult to get into this midfield group with Samuel Piette and [Victor] The animals are there.”

Kony’s ability from the penalty area, particularly the way he moves the ball up and down the field, could be an advantage in the World Cup, provided he takes over these friendlies.

Despite the thinness of the midfield, the front wire is more loaded than ever. Ten players and strikers were called up, including 18-year-old Luca Coleucho, who was part of the June camp that was eventually shortened due to labor dispute.

Koleosho made his La Liga debut for Espanyol as a 17-year-old, which quickly marched his progression to the first team. The fact that he is also eligible to join the United States, Nigeria and Italy only intensified the plot earlier this summer.

But despite only taking two training sessions during a busy week, the group made an impact on Koleosho.

“He enjoyed the environment,” Herdman said. “I think Alfonso is his favorite player and he has had some good relations with Jonathan David and some of the young players, and for sure he has been in good contact with the coaching staff. There was no doubt that he would not come back.”

Because Koleosho qualifies for four different countries, appearing in these friendlies will not tie the teen to Canada. He had to play in a competitive match to lock him in red and white.

Theo Corbino, who is in sexy shape With Blackpool, he also returns with Tajon Buchanan as he struggles with a quad injury. Herdman says Buchanan will get “very limited minutes” as a result.

Injuries, as well as players potentially lacking rhythm at World Cup time, have contributed to an increase in the number of strikers, although Herdmann said he might test a few of them at left-back.

All of this leads to a great tactical question surrounding the formation. The lineup of five midfielders and 10 forwards certainly suggests that Herdmann will stick to 3-4-3 in possession, which will turn into a 4-4-2 off the ball. Whether this is the right strategy given the way Belgium, Croatia and Morocco can come close The group stage matches are another matter.

Then again, these friendlies – and the World Cup in November against Japan – should get the team for what awaits in Doha.

“I think there are some similarities in the playing styles with at least one of our opponents playing against a major opponent in the group stage,” Herdmann said.

Uruguay tend to use a central trio, usually consisting of Federico Valverde of Real Madrid, Rodrigo Bentancur of Tottenham Hotspur and Lucas Torreira of Galatasaray. Manuel Ugarte (Sporting FC) and Matthias Vecino (Lazio) are just two of the reserves in a loaded midfield, which Canada will be proud of at the World Cup Finals.

“I have to say the match against Uruguay, it was a massive coup for Canada to make it in Europe,” Herdmann said. “This will be a real test and not necessarily a tactical one. It will be the first time you play for a $400 million team. When you think you play the United States, and they are at a score of 250, double that now when you play for Uruguay. You play Valverde at Real Madrid, You play [Edinson] Cavani, you’re playing [Darwin] Nunez plays for Liverpool.

“It’s just another level. We can’t wait. It’s so exciting.”

Notes: One of the most highly regarded dual nationals, Daniel Gibson, has been called up by England’s Under-20 squad for this window. “He is proud of his Canadian heritage, sees himself as Canadian, has identified himself as Canadian and at some point wanted to play for Canada,” Herdman said, and is engaged in ongoing talks with the 19-year-old, although agent and commercial influences are delaying the process. … Herdman also ruled out the possibility of recruiting 22-year-old defender Tom Holmes, who has a Canadian-born grandmother. However, a Edit 2009 Canadian law states that Holmes, who has no other connection to Canada after his grandmother, is ineligible to represent the national team despite FIFA laws allowing this.