Canada Soccer’s men’s national team will face New Zealand on March 24 during the upcoming FIFA international window. The two sides will meet in Murcia, Spain for the Saturday afternoon match at Pinatar Arena.
The friendly could see a number of Vancouver Whitecaps FC players donning their national team colours, as a total of six players currently on the first-team roster have earned caps for Canada or New Zealand. Alphonso Davies, Marcel de Jong, Doneil Henry, and Russell Teibert have featured for Canada, while Stefan Marinović and Myer Bevan have represented the Kiwis. David Edgar, who was on the roster the past two years for the 'Caps and is currently with the team as a preseason camp invitee, also has over 30 caps for Canada under his belt.
This fixture will also be the first official match with John Herdman at the helm of the men’s national team since he was announced as head coach and program director in January.
The March match will be Canada’s first of the 2018 international season, one which will build towards a new cycle of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers on the road to Qatar 2022. Taking advantage of the FIFA international window while staying in Europe where many professional players are in the crux of their 2017-18 season, Canada will have a chance to face a solid international opponent in New Zealand.
“This match is a great opportunity to be face to face with members of the men’s national team program and establish the foundations and relationships that will align Canada’s men’s national team program towards a goal of consistent winning performances,” said Herdman. “Outreach to the men’s national team player pool is part of our ongoing program review and I look forward to selecting a roster and preparing a team that will take on a very strong New Zealand side.”
In 2017, Canada posted an international record of four wins, three draws, and two losses in nine international matches. In the last three years, Canada’s record is 13 wins, 10 draws, and 10 losses. New Zealand, meanwhile, posted a record of three wins, two draws, and seven losses in 12 matches in 2017. New Zealand played in the FIFA Confederations Cup and reached the intercontinental playoffs of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Peru.
The 2018 match will be the first meeting between the two sides since a Canadian tour back in 1980. Canada won both of those matches against their Oceania opponents. Herdman is familiar with the New Zealand program having once made his home in New Zealand, holding the position of director of football combined with the women’s national team head coach where he earned New Zealand Coach of the Year honours in 2006 and 2008.
"New Zealand has and always will hold a special place in my heart as it gave me my first opportunity to work in international football as well as the chance to be part of leaving a special legacy with the Whole of Football Plan,” said Herdman. “I am pleased that I will have the chance to begin this new chapter for Canada against New Zealand.”
In 2018, Canada will participate in the new CONCACAF Nations League, the new national team competition platform created to maximize the match dates presented within the FIFA international calendar. The CONCACAF Nations League has been created to provide an avenue for more meaningful and quality international soccer matches while uniting the CONCACAF region through competition
Canada are two-time CONCACAF champions, having won the CONCACAF Championship in 1985 and the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2000. In winning the 1985 CONCACAF Championship, Canada qualified for the 1986 FIFA World Cup Mexico™; in winning the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Canada qualified for the FIFA Confederations Cup Korea/Japan 2001.
Canada Soccer's men's national youth teams, meanwhile, have won two CONCACAF titles: both the 1986 and 1996 CONCACAF Men's Youth Championships. Canada have qualified for eight editions of the FIFA U-20 World Cup and six editions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.