Canada Soccer fans excited but are realistic about upcoming friendlies

Jun 6, 2024 | Headlines, Sports

Canada Soccer has reached new heights in the past few years.

From qualifying for their first World Cup in 36 years in 2022, reaching their highest ever FIFA world ranking of 33 in February 2022 and producing some of the best stars in Europe like Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and Lille’s Jonathan David, Canada Soccer has gained global attention.

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And now they enter a new chapter of international recognition with high-profile friendlies against two European giants, the Netherlands and France, in the next four days, ahead of their inaugural appearance in the Copa America at the end of the month.

These are the types of matches that Canadian soccer fans like Daniel Czarny have been eagerly waiting for.

“We’ve been begging to play top teams like this for decades,” said Czarny, who is also the administrator for the Canadian Men’s National Soccer Team Supporters group on Facebook.

While Canadian soccer fans are excited for these upcoming high-profile matches, their expectations remain tempered.

France is the second-ranked nation in the world and is not far removed from being runners-up in the 2022 FIFA World Cup after winning their second-ever title in 2018.

The Netherlands is the seventh-ranked nation in the world and has made its share of World Cup Finals in its history, having been runners-up in three tournaments, most recently in 2010.

Czarny said he is not focused on the result of today’s game when gauging the success of these friendlies.

“What I’m looking for more is to see the new Jesse Marsch structure in which he plans to use the team,” he said.

Marsch was appointed as the new men’s national team manager on May 13.

Canadian soccer supporter Mike Hudson, who is also the former technical director of the provincial soccer programs in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, said that he liked the squad that Marsch and Canada Soccer selected for Marsch’s first games as manager.

“They really seemed to go with a nice blend of experience and youth,” Hudson said. “I think that’s the right thing to do.”

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Hudson said these friendlies against the Netherlands on June 6 and France on June 9 will serve Canada well as they prepare for a tough Copa America group featuring the likes of world number one and reigning FIFA World Cup champions Argentina.

“If you’re going to compete against the likes of Argentina, then you have to be able to compete against the likes of France and the Netherlands,” he said.

Hudson also said scheduling elite competition in friendlies like this should become the norm for Canada as they gear up for hosting the 2026 World Cup.

“I think they need to look at playing against teams that would normally qualify for the World Cup,” he said.

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But at the end of the day, fans like Hudson and Czarny are keeping their expectations at bay knowing that having the opportunity to play against elite nations who are in intense preparations themselves for Euro 2024, which starts June 14, is a huge step.

“Even if we lose by a large margin, I think this can only help us,” Czarny said.

“If you want to get better and better, you’re going to have to keep playing better teams,” he said.

The match against the Netherlands takes place on June 6 at 2:45 p.m. EST in Rotterdam, Netherlands, while the friendly against France will be played at 3:15 p.m. EST on June 9 in Bourdeaux, France.