Canadian players interact during training in Qatar | Photo: PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP
A pleasant surprise in the first round despite losing to Belgium (1-0), Canada faces a new and difficult test against the current vice-world champion Croatia, this Sunday at 7:00 p.m. local time (1:00 p.m. Brasilia time). , in the Khalifa stadium, in Doha, for the second round of group F. The Canadians are three points behind the Belgian leaders and a defeat for the Croats would mean elimination, while the selection of the Balkans – as well as Morocco – cannot be eliminated or qualify for this second round.
Canada made a good impression on their return to the World Cup – a tournament they had not played since 1986 – in a duel where they lost to the selection of the “Red Devils”, but where they played better (21 shots against 9) and even missed a penalty, shot by Alphonso Davies and saved by Thibaut Courtois.
“For me, the first half was a football lesson for the Canadians. It was a nice surprise, the best expression of football I’ve seen in the first round,” Mexico coach Gerardo Martino said on Friday. . Croatia, with their runners-up status won four years ago in Russia, started with a goalless draw against a Moroccan team that was played head-to-head.
“It’s good that as a team we weren’t happy when we drew. We played well defensively but not offensively,” said Croatian coach Zlatko Dalic. With this draw, Croatia ended their good run. He has won the last five games played, including four official ones, in the UEFA Nations League, where he managed to win his group and qualify for the “Final Four” which will be played in June 2023.
Dalic warned against the qualities of an opponent who started as an outsider in the group: “It’s an attacking team, they play under a lot of pressure, they missed a penalty and conceded a goal on the counterattack They showed much more than in the last games, I played much better than against Morocco”.
Provocation in the press room
Off the pitch, Saturday’s official press conferences were marked by Canadian coach John Herdman’s controversial remarks after the game against Belgium when he told his players “let’s go f… with Croatia “.
“What I said was to remind the guys that we have a tough job ahead of us. They’ve had that mentality from day one. They know we have goals here,” Herdman told reporters. .
“The Croatian team deserves the respect of the whole world. We won by the way we played and by our behavior during the World Cup,” replied Dalic in the same room.
“We respect everyone equally. We deserve respect and Canadians should. Those words are not respectful. We are World Cup finalists, I don’t want to comment further,” he said. -he adds.
Setting aside the controversy, Herdman insisted on the importance of the game: “It’s a defining moment, it’s life or death. We’ve waited 36 years to be here and we don’t need more motivation. Cup, against players like Luka Modric. What moment !” (AFP)
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