Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Canada to play Armenia in Cyprus

Armenia!

Hey there, 2012! It's me. Sorry you haven't heard from me yet.

But today there was news significant enough to warrant a post. After a much-rumoured late February friendly against Tunisia apparently fell through, the CSA announced today that the men's national team would take on Armenia in Cyprus on February 29th.

This is an important year, undoubtedly, for the Canadian national team. In a few short months (5 to be exact) the squad will be taking on Honduras, Panama and Cuba for one of two spots into the final hexagonal round of CONCACAF qualifying. 2012 is also the centennial year for the association, with a glamour friendly or two vaguely promised.

A neutral site match against Armenia is surely not a glamour friendly. The Armenians had a decent showing in Euro qualifying but ultimately fell short, finishing 3rd in their group behind Russia and Ireland. Their FIFA ranking of 46 is 26 spots better than Canada, so they should pose a good test.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Canada has never faced Armenia in international play. They have, however, played a match in Armenia. Armenia, Colombia, that is; a 3-0 loss to the Colombians on March 30th, 1988.

In a news conference, Stephen Hart suggested Atiba Hutchinson, Canada's best player by some measure, would not be fit enough to be selected. This may be a somewhat political way of saying that PSV Eindhoven might not be keen on letting him go for a meaningless match, as Hutch was injured twice on international duty in 2011. He has been taking part in the friendlies during the Eredivisie winterstop, so there is no reason to believe he wouldn't be ready by then.

Look out for appearances from some newish faces also playing in Europe. I'd expect to see at least one of Marcus Haber, Randy Edwini-Bonsu, and Milan Borjan to be called for the match.

2 comments:

Jamie said...

I'm impressed with your ability to find obscure trivia such as a match in Armenia, Colombia... but could you answer me this nugget: How many times has the Can MNT played a game on Feb 29?

J said...

Ask and ye shall receive.

The Armenia, Colombia bit was a bit of a surprise. I was searching the RSSSF match archive for a previous meeting with Armenia, since the match and player archives on the CSA site don't work following a recent re-design. A little Ctrl-F turned that up.

Canada hasn't played many matches in February, and as far as I can tell none on a February 29th. The closest would be a 2006 friendly in Austria on the 28th, a 2-0 win.

Late February has generally been kind to Canada. As you may recall the 2000 Gold Cup was held in February with Canada beating Colombia in the final on the 26th.

Any more questions?