Herd­man sum­mons Davies for U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands game

The Niagara Falls Review - - Sports - NEIL DAVID­SON

Bay­ern Mu­nich-bound Alphonso Davies is one of five teenagers sum­moned by coach John Herd­man for Canada’s CONCACAF qual­i­fy­ing game against the

U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands on Sept. 9.

The 17-year-old Davies, slated to join the Ger­man pow­er­house af­ter his MLS sea­son with the Van­cou­ver White­caps, is joined by goal­keeper Alessan­dro Busti, for­wards Jonathan David and Liam Mil­lar (all 18) and full­back Zachary Brault-Guil­lard (19).

Brault-Guil­lard, Busti, David and 20-year-old cen­tre back Derek Cor­nelius have yet to win a se­nior cap, al­though they have rep­re­sented Canada at the youth level. Only Cor­nelius has had a pre­vi­ous call-up to the men’s team — in March. Brault-Guil­lard is in the Olympique Ly­on­nais pro­gram in France while Busti plays for the Ju­ven­tus re­serves in Italy, Cor­nelius for Ser­bia’s FK Ja­vor Ivan­jica and David for Bel­gium’s KAA Gent.

Mil­lar, who plays for Liver­pool’s un­der-23 side, and mid­fielder Jonathan Wother­spoon (Scot­land’s St. John­stone) made their in­ter­na­tional de­buts in Herd­man’s first game as men’s coach — a 1-0 win over New Zealand in March.

The U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands game, one of four in the qual­i­fy­ing round, serves as an ap­pe­tizer for the 2019 de­but of a com­pe­ti­tion show­cas­ing teams from North and Cen­tral Amer­ica and the Caribbean. Even­tu­ally the par­tic­i­pat­ing CONCACAF coun­tries will be di­vided into three tiers with pro­mo­tion and rel­e­ga­tion.

Veter­ans on the Cana­dian squad in­clude goal­keeper Mi­lan Bor­jan (Red Star Bel­grade), de­fend­ers De­jan Jakovic (Los Angeles FC) and Mar­cel de Jong (Van­cou­ver White­caps), mid­field­ers Scott Ar­field (Glas­gow Rangers), Ju­nior Hoi­lett (Cardiff City), Sa­muel Pi­ette (Mon­treal Im­pact) and Jonathan Oso­rio (Toronto FC) and for­wards To­saint Rick­etts (Toronto FC) and Cyle Larin (Be­sik­tas).

White­caps cen­tre back Doneil Henry re­turns to the se­nior side for the first time since 2016.

“It’s a great time and this is a tal­ented group,” Herd­man said in a state­ment. “It’s a period in time where ev­ery match mat­ters, adding the sort of pres­sure that will help bind the group tighter.

“There is no life in be­tween any more, that line was burned brightly into the cul­ture in our first camp in March 2018. We know what we are here to do and as a group we will ei­ther choose to take this team to an­other level or we won’t, it’s that clear. This is a tal­ented group who have a real shot at qual­i­fy­ing for (the World Cup in) Qatar 2022.”

Miss­ing is vet­eran cap­tain Atiba Hutchin­son (Be­sik­tas).

The only over-30 play­ers called up are Bor­jan (30), de Jong and Rick­etts (both 31) and Jakovic (33).

The Sept. 9 game was sched­uled to be played in the U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands but has been moved to the IMG Academy in Braden­ton, Fla., be­cause of a lack of a suit­able venue.

Af­ter the U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands, which is ranked 199th in the world, No. 79 Canada will host

No. 177 Do­minica on Oct. 16 in Toronto. Canada will then play at No. 135 St. Kitts & Ne­vis on Nov. 18 and host French Guiana on March 26.

No venue has been an­nounced yet for the home game against French Guiana, which is un­ranked be­cause it is not a FIFA mem­ber.

The new com­pe­ti­tion will crown the Na­tions League cham­pion and serve as qual­i­fy­ing for the newly ex­panded 16-team Gold Cup.

It is also ex­pected to in­flu­ence seed­ing in fu­ture World Cup qual­i­fy­ing.

Europe has al­ready an­nounced sim­i­lar plans for the UEFA Na­tions League.

The tour­na­ments are seen as a way to move away from mean­ing­less friendly matches and to en­sure all con­fed­er­a­tion mem­bers get mean­ing­ful games.

Costa Rica, Hon­duras, Mex­ico, Panama, the U.S., and Trinidad & Tobago, the six teams that made it to the fi­nal round of World Cup qual­i­fy­ing in the re­gion, will by­pass the one-off qual­i­fy­ing stage.

CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

Bay­ern Mu­nich-bound Alphonso Davies is one of five teenagers sum­moned for Canada’s CONCACAF Na­tions qual­i­fy­ing game.

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