Exhale Canada soccer fans, exhale. What was anticipated to be Canada’s easiest match, felt very much like the most difficult. Nonetheless, Canada comes out of the match with not one, not two, not three, but four, yes, four goals scored and more importantly three points as Canada defeats French Guiana 4-2 to open up the tournament.
Gold Cup Group A: Canada vs French Guiana
While other teams may have done a better job at putting a team like French Guiana away, #CanMNT supporters can’t ask for much more. They needed three points after the first game, and got them.
We can sit here and argue that there’s no way they should have conceded two goals vs a team of French Guiana’s calibre but is it really a #CanMNT game if they don’t concede vs weaker teams?
Anyways, you can definitely make the case that the game was entertaining for both the nations’ supporters. Canada supporters got to watch their team score four goals in a game which doesn’t happen often, especially in meaningful matches whereas French Guiana supporters got to not only watch their team play their first ever Gold Cup game but also make it quite exciting.
Now I’d like to get into the goals scored in the game.
Based on the start to the game Canada had, I was surprised it nearly 30 minutes to score their first goal. The goal came off a set piece which was created by great anticipation by the new man at right back, Michael Petrasso who drew the fee kick. Scott Arfield’s delivery looked to be off target but Donovan Leon’s miscue resulted in the ball redirecting off Dejan Jakovic’s rib and into the back of the net for his international goal for Canada as well as Canada’s first goal at the tournament since 2011.
About 20 minutes later Canada scored their second of the half courtesy of an excellent run from Scott Arfield and perhaps a lucky bounce along the way. Arfield did well in taking advantage of some open field ahead of him. His attempt at a through ball failed but came right back to him and struck from just outside the 18 with his left foot into the bottom corner for a 2-0 lead.
15 minutes into the second half, with fans already feeling good, Canada puts home their third from the golden boy, Alphonso Davies. A retrieval from Patrice Bernier just before midfield saw Canada on the counter attack with Lucas Cavallini sending Davies off for a breakaway and a cool finish for his first goal for Canada and make it a 3-0 game.
French Guiana’s First
Shortly after Davies made it 3-0, a corner from French Guiana made it a 3-1 game. Steven Vitoria lost his man Roy Contout inside the box and had a clear header that was sent into the back of the net.
French Guiana’s Second
One minute after getting on the board, French Guiana decided to make things interesting, they really started to press Canada as they looked nervous and it showed. A header came in, which Maxime Crepeau had to deal with but with defenders caught flat footed, French Guiana took advantage and Sloan Privat cut Canada’s lead to one.
After a solid back track by Junior Hoilett, Russell Teibert, Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Davies went for a run up the pitch. Teibert sent it to Jackson-Hamel who cut back inside and fed a charging Davies who finished the play with his second of the match and seal three points for Canada.
So what do we make of the match? Well, although against a weaker opponent, we know that this Canadian side under Zambrano is capable of creating opportunities. They won’t score four goals every game of course but they may very well be an exciting team to watch in the future. A 4-2 final may be unacceptable to some but let’s not forget this was the second game under Zambrano and the two main things every Canada soccer supporter wanted from this game, they got. That’s at least one goal scored, and three points.
Standouts: Alphonso Davies, Scott Arfield, Michael Petrasso and Lucas Cavallini.
Next up: Costa Rica