With difficult matches against Mexico and Panama looming, three points are a necessity for Canada in their Gold Cup opener.
For the first time since 2003, Martinique has made it to the Gold Cup. They’ve been rewarded with a group of death that they have basically no chance of getting out of, and start their campaign against Canada on Sunday night. Canada will have their sights set on a knockout stage place, but almost certainly need a win in this match to achieve that goal.
Martinique are not a member of FIFA and do not compete in World Cup qualifying. A team in a similar situation, Guadeloupe, has previously been a fixture in this competition. Martinique are made up of mostly semi-professional and amateur players, but have a number of professionals from the French third division.
Canada have recently appointed a new coach, but he won’t be in charge of the team for this tournament. Benito Floro, who has enjoyed previous stops at Real Madrid and Villarreal, will watch from the stands as Colin Miller takes control of the team. Previous manager Stephen Hart resigned nine months ago following an embarrassing 8-1 defeat to Honduras, and Canada took their time with their new appointment, waiting on a big name who viewed the job as a destination, not a stepping stone.
The Canadian team is an interesting mix of veteran and young players, with a number of their youngsters look like promising enough prospects that they could guide Canada to a top-three finish in the Hex in their lifetimes. The top man to watch is 20-year-old Russel Teibert, who has emerged as a star for the Vancouver Whitecaps this season. Left back Ashtone Morgan, just 22, is also one of Major League Soccer’s biggest rising stars.
Match date/time: Sunday, 5:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
TV: FOX Soccer (U.S. – English), Univision Deportes (U.S. – Spanish), Sportsnet World (Canada), ESPN (U.K.)
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