Canada capitalizes on late error, edges Uzbekistan in friendly
Canada to travel to Honduras for crucial World Cup qualifier in September
The next time Canada's men's national soccer team sees the field, the atmosphere will be in stark contrast to the quiet afternoon in the Austrian countryside it enjoyed on Tuesday.
A late own goal gave Canada a 2-1 win over Uzbekistan in a friendly in front of a scattering of fans at the Thermenstadion in Bad Waltersdorf.
Canada's next game is Sept. 2 at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. It will likely be in front of a frenzied mob of over 40,000 fans for a crucial World Cup qualifier, with both teams fighting to advance to the final round of qualifying in the CONCACAF region.
"You can feel the buzz, especially after the game today," captain David Edgar, who opened the scoring for Canada in the 20th minute, said of his team's upcoming matches. Canada will also host El Salvador Sept. 6 in Vancouver in the final game of the qualifying round.
Canada rewarded late
After Uzbekistan's Eldor Shomurodov tied the game the 62nd minute, Canada started to press late and were rewarded when Akramjon Komilov headed a Canadian cross from the left side into his own goal.
The game concluded a camp that started late last month and included a 1-1 draw with Azerbaijan last Friday.
"The other game [against Azerbaijan] was awful. It's true," said Canada coach Benito Floro. "Today, I am happy because, not only because the other team is good, but I think the players have been capable of doing a very good press and increasing the level of combined attack."
Edgar got Canada in front with a nice header on a set-piece. After a free kick on the left side, Scott Arfield crossed in and Edgar was right in the middle just a few yards away from the goal.
Canada was a bit slow out of the gate in the second half, with Uzbekistan getting some looks.
Poor Canadian marking led to Uzbekistan's equalizer. Canada had been unable to clear their lines and Shomurodov was gifted with a free header from just a few yards out.
'Buzzing' to get to Honduras
After picking up four points in four games in its CONCACAF, Canada lies third in a World Cup qualifying group with Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador. While tied on points with Honduras, Canada has an inferior goal differential.
Arfield, who will be up in the English Premier League next season with newly promoted Burnley FC, teased the Uzbekistan side with a number of passes and filled in as playmaker-in-chief in the absence of Atiba Hutchinson.
Throw in the addition of Will Johnson, who left camp earlier with an injury, and Canada's midfield looks strong heading into September's matches with Arfield, Hutchinson plus Junior Hoilett on the wing.
"The boys have told me so many stories about that country," said Arfield of Honduras. "It's something that I'm buzzing to get. In this squad and the training standard and the ability, I don't think we should go there scared in any way."