SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — There’s still life, but only just, for Canada’s men’s national team.
After taking the lead in the 35th minute through Manjrekar James, Canada conceded on both sides of halftime and lost 2-1 to Honduras at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano.
The result sees Canada drop three points back of Honduras for the second qualifying spot for the six-team final round — the "Hex" — and perhaps more importantly, five goals back on goal difference.
“We came here to win the game and if you don’t win it then try to draw, but we were disappointed with that (result) but it was the best worst case scenario for us,” said midfielder Scott Arfield. “We’re looking forward to Tuesday night and we’ll have our fans behind us, and anything can happen.”
It will all come down to Tuesday’s game at BC Place where Canada will hope to score like it hasn't done in a while, and hope that Mexico not only beats Honduras but by the widest margin possible to put Canada into the Hex for the first time since the 1998 qualifying cycle.
The Canadian bench rose as one in celebration when James headed in Arfield’s corner kick, but after being unable to clear some consistent pressure late in the first half Mario Martinez struck to equalize.
“In terms of defending, if we kept it solid into halftime, it would have been a different game,” said David Edgar. “You don’t like your fate in anyone else’s hands. We could have done the job today but it was not to be so it is in Mexico’s hands, but they’ve got a point to prove as well, coming off what was a disappointing result for them in the summer.”
With Canada caught pressing a bit too high minutes into the second half, the lanes opened up for Honduras to exploit and Alberth Elis managed to cross the ball in for Romell Quioto to finish after he had shrugged off defender Doneil Henry, who was a step behind.
Honduras did try to press for more but Canada managed to more or less lock things down at the back, and only troubled the Honduran goal a little bit in pursuit of an equalizer.
The one-goal loss means Canada preserved what was the best possible outcome for a losing result. Now, it just has to throw caution to the wind and put on a scoring display the likes of which a Canadian team hasn’t done in quite a while.
“We’ve had good results at home,” said Atiba Hutchinson. “The last game at home wasn’t the best but there were a lot of parts of the game where we did well. We know what we can do at home but we’re kind of at a low point but we now what we can do.”