Lucas Cavallini Canada tied Bahrain in World Cup warm-up | TSN

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MANAMA, Bahrain — Without some of their best talent, Canada tied Bahrain 2-2 with an 81st-minute own goal in a World Cup warm-up game on Friday.

After Bahrain took the lead in the 65th minute from the penalty spot, they paid for not clearing the ball. Substitute Zachary Brault-Guillard sent a low cross that ricocheted off striker Lucas Cavallini’s leg and a defender, and deflected into the Bahrain goal.

An own goal was eventually ruled, instead of the number 18 for the portly Vancouver Whitecap striker, who seemed to dance a bit to get his leg on the ball. But then he hit the defender next to him.

Ismael Kone scored Canada’s first goal.

“A very good test and the kind of test we needed,” Canada coach John Herdman said. “We knew Bahrain were going to treat this like a big game and they brought real intensity.

“It’s what we needed to shake off the rust a little bit and be able to evaluate some players at this level. I think what we learned is that there were some good moments, but there’s still work to be done. We’ve got to get the team to have some cohesion and that they return to have that party rhythm”.

Herdman will be receiving reinforcements soon.

He did not feature his full squad for the Bahrain game, with almost all of his Europe-based players still in action for their clubs. They will be revealed after the weekend’s matches with those selected for the World Cup roster heading to Doha.

Canada will announce its World Cup roster on Sunday with Herdman, who used 39 players in qualifying and was decided by 26 finals. Some decisions have already been made for him with goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau and defender Scott Kennedy off the roster due to injury.

There was another setback on Friday with defender Doneil Henry, who was to captain Canada for the second time, a late scratch after going down in warm-up.

“Today has been one of the toughest moments of my career watching the great man suffer there,” said Herdman, who was awaiting further evaluation of Henry’s injury.

Joel Waterman, making his Canadian debut, started in his place with Samuel Piette leading the team.

The Canadian men will play one final game, against No. 24 Japan, in Dubai next Thursday before their World Cup debut against No. 2 Belgium on November 23.

The Canadians got a taste of the conditions that await them in Qatar. It was 29 degrees Celsius at the start (6:30 pm local time) at Al-Khalifa Stadium.

Canada, ranked 41st in the world compared to 85th-ranked Bahrain, controlled most of the game and led early, but paid for an error in a first half that ended tied 1-1. Bahrain showed themselves as a threat on the counterattack.

Bahrain took a 2-1 lead 20 minutes into the second half on an Abdulla Yusuf penalty after Alistair Johnston hit Mohamed Marhoon on the edge of the penalty area. Canadian goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair reached into the penalty but was unable to stop it.

Bahrain showed a physical side early with Mark-Anthony Kaye brought down in a tough tackle.

Kone opened the scoring in the sixth minute with his first goal for Canada, in his fourth appearance. Kamal Miller, with a long ball from deep in Canada territory, found his CF Montreal teammate, who used a deft first touch to get past a defender and run towards goal without interference, past Bahrain goalkeeper Ebrahim Lutfalla with a high shot.

A touch goal by Cavallini in the 12th minute, after a pass from Jonathan Osorio, was marked as offside.

Bahrain responded in the 14th minute against Mahdi Haumaidan’s run of play. After Kaye failed to corner a pass from behind, Yusuf beat Waterman and found Haumaidan in the penalty area. His quick shot eluded slipping Johnston and St. Clair, who brought their right hands to the ball but couldn’t avoid it.

For the camp and the Bahrain match, Herdman relied on MLS talent along with midfielder Liam Fraser, who plays in Belgium for KMSK Deinze. Eighteen of the 21 players in the camp were from Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver (including Toronto winger Jacob Shaffelburg on loan to Nashville SC).

The TFC and Vancouver players in the camp had not seen action since the MLS regular season finale on Oct. 9. Montreal exited the playoffs on October 23 in a 3–1 loss to New York City FC in the Eastern Conference semifinal.

For some, the pause was even longer. Prior to Friday, Osorio had played just 18 minutes since Aug. 20 due to post-concussion syndrome. He earned his 56th cap for Canada on Friday and looked good, playing the full game.

“Unbelievable,” Osorio said. “It’s been tough…everyone helped me come back and get to this point. I’m really happy to be with the guys. They helped me out on the field.”

The Bahrain game was also a milestone for both Herdman and Johnston.

Herdman scored his 46th “A” cap in charge of the Canadian men, moving him to second on the all-time list, surpassing Stephen Hart with a record of (31-10-5). Bob Lenarduzzi holds the record at 62.

Johnston played in his 27th consecutive game for Canada, tying the record held by former captain Bruce Wilson. The 24-year-old from Aurora, Ontario made his debut against Bermuda in March 2021 in Canada’s first World Cup qualifier and has been a fixture ever since.

Johnston, who won his 29th match on Friday, has not missed a Canada outing since a match in Aruba in June 2021.

St. Clair, earning just his second cap, started in goal behind three defenders of Waterman, Johnston and Miller and a midfield of Richie Laryea, Piette, Kaye and Raheem Edwards with Osorio and Kone playing behind Cavallini.

The Canadian starting 11 had a combined cap count of 293, led by Piette (65) and Osorio (56).

Fraser, Brault-Guillard, Ayo Akinola, Jayden Nelson, Shaffelburg and Lukas MacNaughton, making his Canadian debut, entered the second half. Miller, who seemed to prefer one leg, came off in the 71st minute.

For Akinola, it was Canada’s first appearance since injuring his knee against the United States in July 2021 at the Gold Cup.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 11, 2022.

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