In a match as bumpy and uneven as the Caribbean pitch it was played on, Canada held firm against a desperate St. Kitts and Nevis side in a 0-0 draw on Friday night that sees the Canadians advance to the third round of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region.
The game opened at a break-neck pace, with the hosts taking the match to the Canadians from the first minute. The Caribbean side played knowing that nothing but the full three points would suffice, and their enthusiasm going forward ensured a wide open affair for most of the first half.
Salvadoran referee Elmer Bonilla allowed a ton of physical play, which gave The Sugar Boyz a boost, as they were able to use their athleticism to negate Canada’s deliberate, patient tactics. With the Canadians rattled, the Kittitians - charged up by a small-yet-raucous crowd at Warner Park in Basseterre - saw their fair share of chances in the opening frame, although none were serious enough to really challenge Canadian goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld.
The second half went much the same way, with St. Kitts determined to take it to the visitors, while the Canadians seemed content to soak up the pressure while waiting for the right moment to attack.
That moment never came, though, as the closest Canada would come to scoring was on a 90th-minute breakaway by Simeon Jackson that St. Kitts goalkeeper Akil Byron did extremely well to stop.
The two sides will travel to Toronto, Ontario, for Group D’s final match on Tuesday night at BMO Field. Following that, Canada will face Honduras, Cuba, and Panama in Group C of the third round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
St. Kitts and Nevis
Akil Byron, Kareem Harris, Kareem Mitchum, Thrizen Leader, Joel Jeffers, Gerard Williams, George Isaac, Errol O'Laughlin (terrance Warde, 85’), Keith Gumbs, Akil Grier (Orlando Mitchum, 64’), Ian Lake (Matthew Berkeley, 68’)
Subs not used: Alexis Saddler, Joeski Williams, Tiran Hanley, Mudassa Howe, Julani Archibald, Devaughn Elliott, Tishan Hanley
Lars Hirschfeld, Ante Jazic, Mike Klukowski, David Edgar, Adam Straith, Julian de Guzman, Will Johnson (Tosaint Ricketts, 61’), Jonathan Beaulieu-Borgault, Josh Simpson, Dwayne De Rosario (Olivier Occean, 80'), Simeon Jackson
Subs not used: Nik Ledgerwood, Nana Attakora, Ashtone Morgan, Patrice Bernier, Kenny Stamatopoulos
Referee: Elmer Arturo Bonilla (SLV)
Assistant Referees: Douglas Bermudez (SLV), Jose Mangandi (SLV)
Fourth Official: Erick Andino (HON)