JIM MORRIS – Dealing with chaos will be important when his team faces Jamaica away from home in the Concacaf Nations League quarterfinals on Friday, according to Canada interim coach Mauro Biello.
Biello knows history won’t be on the side of the Canadians, who haven’t won a soccer game in Jamaica in 35 years. The second game of the home-and-home series takes place on Tuesday at BMO Field in Toronto.
“We expect a tough game there,” Biello said during a conference call on Thursday. For us it’s about achieving the result.
“This is how we deal with chaos and there will be a lot of chaos in these two games. In this two-game series, it always comes down to getting the first result. It gives us the opportunity to take care of our business from home.”
Canada is 1-6-5 in Jamaica, with its only win coming on April 5, 1988 with a score of 4-0.
Biello said his men, ranked 45th in the world, must be physically and mentally prepared for the conditions at Independence Park when they face the Jamaicans. Temperatures of 27 degrees Celsius, rain and humidity of 90% are expected on Friday.
“It’s about fighting,” he said. We expect a lot of rain. Who knows what the terrain will look like. I have to prepare the team not only tactically but also mentally.
“The players need to understand that sometimes in such clashes they have to go beyond their norm. If we are mentally strong, we can react at different times and in different situations.”
The winner of this series will secure a place in the 2024 Copa America.
Canada, Mexico, the United States and Costa Rica earned a bye to the quarterfinals of the tournament in March 2023 based on the Concacaf rankings.
Panama, Jamaica, Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago made it past the qualifying round in the September and October international windows.
The United States faces Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico faces Honduras and Panama faces Costa Rica.
The winners qualify for the final of the CONCACAF Nations League next March and, as teams invited to the South American championship, also punch their ticket to the Copa America.
The losers of the quarterfinals have the chance to follow suit via a direct playoff game in March, which will determine the two remaining places for Concacaf participation.
In their last meeting in March 2022, Canada defeated Jamaica 4-0 at BMO Field to secure qualification for the most recent World Cup.
Canada’s last game ended 4-1 against Japan in a friendly on October 13th. It was Canada’s first game under Biello, a former assistant coach who took over after John Herdman left for MLS side Toronto FC.
Biello believes there is now more clarity between him and the team.
“The players are starting to understand how I work and what my message is. “They are beginning to understand what I expect of them,” he stated. This clarity is important to me.”
The 23-man squad Biello announced last week includes 19 players who were part of the squad that took part in the World Cup in Qatar. These include left-back Alphonso Davies, attackers Jonathan David and Cyle Larin, defenders Alistair Johnston and Kamal Miller and goalkeeper Milan Borjan.
Jamaica’s squad for these games includes five players who play in the English Premier League.
“It’s a team that has a lot of good players,” analyzed Biello. They have speed, power, technical ability, qualities that we need to be aware of.
“Their players up front could cause problems. We need to make sure we can take care of it. Then play our style, try to exploit them with our tactics and see how we can cut through their defense.
Biello said the experience the players gained in the grueling World Cup qualifiers had boosted confidence ahead of Friday night’s showdown.
“We had to dig deep into our strengths in the moments of qualifying when things were difficult. He said whether it was because of the fans, the terrain or the weather. This is an experienced group that has been through these moments to help us and hold everything together.
“You can’t go there and be surprised and not know what to expect. The players know what to expect. You know it will be difficult. They know they have to get results there.”
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