Uruguay to provide litmus test for Canada ahead of 2022 FIFA World Cup

Canada will face Uruguay at the pole Stadion Tehelne in Bratislava, Slovakia on Tuesday in their last exhibition game before they rally for the World Cup

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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Canada’s men’s national soccer team has one last kick before they meet again for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in November.

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Canada will take on Uruguay (12 noon ET, OneSoccer) at the Stadion Tehelne pole here, in their last exhibition match before head coach John Herdman has to select their 26-man World Cup roster.

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Canada beat Qatar 2-0 on Friday in Vienna, Austria, in the first of two exhibition games this current international window. Qatar did not take up the challenge and were flattered by the score.

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Uruguay is on a whole different level.

“As a player you want to play against some of the best players in the world,” Canadian midfielder Sam Adekugbe said on Monday. « We’re not naive, we see what kind of players they have in their team, and so playing players who play at Real Madrid, Barcelona and Liverpool, it’s a huge step forward. But it’s something that we want to approach with confidence and take everything head on.

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Barring injury, the majority of the roster has been selected, but with nearly 40 players called up to the national team during the difficult qualifying process, many of the players who helped Canada get to Qatar will not be in the game. World Cup.

The match also represents a real test of what to expect in Qatar, as Uruguay are one of the best teams in South America with the ability to go far in the tournament.

« It’s a very important test, a test that we look forward to and know the importance of because Qatar is so close, » Canadian centre-back Steven Vitoria said on Monday. « There are a lot of (famous) names in this team, but we don’t want to go down that road. We’re just going to focus on ourselves and test our limits against some of the best opponents in the world.

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Uruguay are two-time world champion and 15-time South American champion. They are currently ranked 13th in the world and will be competing in their 13th World Cup tournament.

Four years ago in Russia, Uruguay qualified for the quarter-finals, only to lose to eventual champions France. In Brazil 2014, Uruguay qualified for the second round, and in the World Cup tournament that preceded it, they advanced to the semi-finals.

« I think since I’ve been here they’re probably the best team we’ve ever faced, definitely top three, » said Canadian midfielder Stephen Eustaquio. « I think it will be a good test for us and probably the perfect test for us before going to Qatar.

« They are at a high level and I think we are at a high level as well, so I think it will be a good game. »

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Uruguay have world-class talent in forwards Luis Suarez, who returned to play at home for Nacional after a stellar career in Europe, Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez, Real Madrid’s midfielder Federico Valverde, midfielder Rodrigo Tottenham Hotspur’s Bentacur and longtime goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, who has been at Galatasaray in Turkey for over a decade.

« I believe the way our players are and the way we approach this game, we are going to have a very good game, » Eustaquio said. « I think it will give us an insight into where we are and what we need to do to prepare for the World Cup. »

Canada have not faced an opponent of this caliber since being invited to Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2010 to provide opposition for Diego Maradona’s men as they depart for the World Cup in South Africa. South.

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It didn’t go well for Canada who stuck to the script, offering little resistance to Argentina in a 5-0 loss.

This edition of the Canadian national team was probably one of the worst ever, while the current one is the best.

« Uruguay is a huge test for the group, it’s probably one of our biggest games to date, » said centre-back Kamal Miller. “It’s a team that has a lot of experience and has played in a lot of major tournaments. They have a lot of experienced and veteran players; lots of guys playing at top clubs, so overall it’s a good test for us.

« It will be a very different test to Qatar. They are a very physical team, they are a team that always play 100% and fight very hard, so overall it is going to be a very good test. for us.

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Herdman hopes Uruguay will give his team a semblance of what to expect when it comes to facing Belgium in their World Cup opener on November 23 at Al Rayyan, in the Qatar. Canada will also face Croatia on November 27 at Al Rayyan and conclude the Group F game against Morocco on December 1.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic will be on hand to watch Canada take on Uruguay. Croatia beat Austria 3-1 in Vienna on Sunday in a UEFA Nations League game and are close.

« For us, I think it’s about preparing for this whole week, going into the game against Qatar, coming out of it and then leading this game against Uruguay, » Miller said. « I think the preparation has been good and we’re just confident and the chemistry is higher than ever and we’re just looking to put it in place on the pitch. »

Email: dvandiest@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest

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