Canada Soccer's Men's National Team to Commence FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers in Orlando
ORLANDO, Fla. - Canada Soccer have announced that their opening match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers will be played at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, FL, USA on Thursday 25 March. The closed-door match will be the first of four FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers scheduled for March and June from which only the group winner will advance to the next round.
The Canada-Bermuda match will be broadcast live on One Soccer (20.00 ET / 17.00 PT). Fans will find extended coverage across Canada Soccer's digital channels on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube featuring the hashtag #CANMNT. After Bermuda, Canada is scheduled to face Cayman Islands on 28 March, Aruba on 5 June and Suriname on 8 June. In all, 30 Concacaf nations are competing in this first round with six group winners advancing to a second round of head-to-head knockout matches.
"Canada Soccer continues to prioritize the safety for all of our players and staff throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic," said Peter Montopoli, Canada Soccer General Secretary." Canada Soccer's established International COVID-19 Travel Protocols will be adhered to for the hosting of this all-important home match for our Men's National Team in the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar™ Qualifiers. In addition, the game will be staged in accordance with the FIFA International Match Protocols supported by the relevant public health requirements in Orlando."
FIFA have established Canada's pathway for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers beginning with an initial round of four matches against Group B opponents Aruba, Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Suriname.
Every match in this round is crucial on Canada's pathway to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. The official window on the FIFA Men's International Match Calendar runs 22-30 March. Canada Soccer's Men's National Team previously trained and played in Orlando in November 2019 (their most recent competitive match in Concacaf Nations League A) while Exploria Stadium has most recently hosted the SheBelieves Cup matches featuring Canada Soccer's Women's National Team.
Canada Soccer's Men's National Team face a busy international schedule in 2021 that includes the four competitive matches in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers in March and June. Also, in March, Canada Soccer's Men's U-23 National Team will complete in the Concacaf Men's Olympic Qualifying in Guadalajara, Mexico. In July, Canada Soccer's Men's National Team are scheduled to compete in the Concacaf Gold Cup with group stage matches against Martinique, USA and a yet-to-be determined third opponent.
"We want to ensure that our best players wear the red shirt and represent Canada because those players want to change the sport in our country by qualifying for the FIFA World Cup™," said John Herdman, Canada Soccer's Men's National Team Head Coach. "There is a group of players that have been part of the battle these past two years, they've been developing together on and off the pitch and they will be the narrators of what could be an amazing story for soccer in this country.
"It is important that when competing in Concacaf, at a stage where every game has so much at stake, that we are always at our strongest. We know this a long campaign consisting of 20 matches to reach Qatar 2022 and there are various stages in this campaign for which we have to plan, but we will be taking it one game at a time with a laser-like focus on reaching the Concacaf Final Round."
From the first round of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers, the Group B winner will face the Group E winner in a second-round, head-to-head series on 12 and 15 June 2021. The winner from that second round then advances to the Concacaf Final Round of eight nations in which each nation will play each opponent twice (once at home and once on the road).
CANADA SOCCER'S MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM PROGRAM
Canada Soccer's Men's National Team, two-time Concacaf champions, were one of only four nations that have finished top-six across all three of Concacaf major tournaments across the past three years: fifth place in Concacaf Nations League A and sixth place at both the 2017 and 2019 Concacaf Gold Cups. In 2019 against Concacaf's top three nations, Canada earned a victory against USA in Concacaf Nations League as well as eliminated both Mexico (U-15) and Costa Rica (U-17) in Concacaf youth competitions.
About Exploria Stadium:
Opened in March 2017, Exploria Stadium is home to Orlando City of Major League Soccer (MLS) and Orlando Pride of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL). The 25,500 seat soccer-specific stadium is located in the heart of Downtown Orlando and was the first MLS stadium to open with five consecutive victories.
Exploria Stadium was 100 percent privately funded at a cost of $155 million. It features a 360-degree lower bowl, North America's first safe-standing supporters' section - dubbed "The Wall" - and a four-sided canopy roof to keep the noise in and weather out. In Section 12, there are 49 rainbow-colored seats to memorialize the victims of the tragedy at Pulse Night Club. The stadium also houses the Club's Front Office.
To date, the stadium has hosted a U.S. Men's National Team's 2018 World Cup Qualifier, the U.S. Women's National Team in the 2018 & 2020 SheBelieves Cup, as well as the 2017 NWSL Championship, 2017 NCAA Women's College Cup, 2018 & 2019 MLS Combines, the Florida Cup, the 2019 MLS All-Star Game and the 2019 Cure Bowl - the first non-soccer event at the venue.
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