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Canadian men to face Japan in final warmup before FIFA World Cup

‘It is important for our players to experience that level of international intensity’: coach
Canadian national men’s soccer team head coach John Herdman watches a training session for a CONCACAF Nations League match against Curacao, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. Canada will play Japan on Nov. 17 in Dubai in its final warmup game before the World Cup in Qatar. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Canada will play Japan on Nov. 17 in Dubai in its final warmup game before the World Cup in Qatar.

The game is set for Al Maktoum Stadium in the United Arab Emirates. .

Drawn in Group F, the Canadian men are scheduled to open World Cup play on Nov. 23 against No. 2 Belgium while Japan kicks off Group E play the same day against Germany.

The Canadians then face No. 15 Croatia on Nov. 27 and No. 23 Morocco on Dec. 1.

“With an eight-week gap between our September matches (against Qatar and Uruguay) and our first match at the FIFA World Cup, it is important for our players to experience that level of international intensity with our pre-tournament match against Japan,” Canada coach John Herdman said in a statement.

“Japan have consistently progressed from the group stage at recent FIFA World Cups, so it will be a good test for the group.”

Japan, ranked 24th in the world, secured its berth in Qatar by virtue of finishing runner-up (at 7-2-1) to Saudi Arabia (7-1-2) in Group B of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) AFC qualifying.

It’s Japan’s seventh straight trip to the World Cup.

Canada, currently ranked 43rd, has lost both previous meetings with Japan — 2-1 in March 2013 in Doha and 3-0 in May 2011 in Niigata, Japan (in the Confederations Cup).

The Canadians are slated to meet Qatar on Sept. 23 at Generali Arena in Vienna, followed by a Sept. 27 game against Uruguay at Stadion Tehelne Pole in Bratislava, Slovakia. The Uruguay match was also originally scheduled for Vienna.

Uruguay is ranked 13th while Qatar, the reigning AFC Asian Cup champions, is No. 48.

Host Qatar will play in Group A at the World Cup, alongside Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands. Uruguay is in Group H with Portugal, Ghana and South Korea.

Canada has played Uruguay just once, losing 3-1 at the Orange Bowl in February 1986. The Canadian men have never faced Qatar.

The September window marks Canada’s first away trip to Europe since March 2018. Canada last played an Asian opponent in November 2016 and a South American team in 2014.

Herdman’s team last played in June, beating No. 84 Curacao 4-0 in Vancouver and losing 2-1 to No. 80 Honduras in San Pedro Sula in CONCACAF Nations League play.

A warmup match against Iran earlier in June was called off due to public criticism over the opposition. Panama replaced Iran as the June 5 opponent in Vancouver but the game was called off due to an impasse in contract discussions between the players and Canada Soccer.

Canada qualified for Qatar on March 27 with a 4-0 victory over Jamaica at Toronto’s BMO Field. The Canadians wrapped up their qualifying campaign March 30 in Panama, finishing atop the final qualifying round standings in CONCACAF at 8-2-4.

The Canadians went 14—4-2 in three qualifying rounds.

—Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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