Feature Photo: Oscar Muñoz Badilla
The Men’s National Team is now one step closer to World Cup qualification following their 4-0 win over Brazil. In a day of crossover matches, Canada needed the victory to advance to the Pan American Cup semifinals, where the winner will face Argentina on Friday. A goal in each quarter all but guaranteed their advancement before the final whistle.
The charge started early as Canada found the Brazilian circle and was awarded a penalty corner in the fourth minute. It was a shot that went wide but Canada would remain in the attacking half of the field, putting pressure on a Brazilian side that was hoping to upset.
Finally, in the 11th minute as Gordon Johnston thought he had scored, the umpire signalled for a Canadian penalty stroke which he proudly took. 1-0. Seventeen minutes later, Keegan Pereira and Matt Sarmento would come barrelling down the pitch only to have Fin Boothroyd waiting at net behind a Brazilian defender. 2-0.
The patient, yet strategic, approach is one that Floris van Son says works for the team: “Against Brazil, we owed it to ourselves to beat them. It was important to stay focused in these games and not get distracted by the referee or your surroundings. We tried to win every quarter, and did, so I think that’s a compliment to us.”
Floris van Son and Keegan Pereira play in the crossover round. Photos/Oscar Munoz Badilla
One of the reasons that Canada has done so well in the tournament can be attributed to their set pieces. Eight of the goals at PAC have been from penalty corners, and it goes to show how much time was spent at practice perfecting every stance and every angle.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into perpetuating the set pieces,” van Son said. “There’s a lot of injecting, stopping and flicking, and everything has to be good for [the shot] to be on target.
“We also have one of the world’s best flickers on our team, and that’s Gordie Johnston. He’s a world-class player, and we’ve been playing off that a little bit by telling our attackers that any result in the D is a result for us, knowing that [Johnston] is on top of it.”
Canada defeats Brazil 4-0 to advance to PAC 2022 semifinals. Photos/Oscar Munoz Badilla
Two minutes into the second half, Pereira knocked the ball past the Brazilian keeper and into the back. 3-0. Brazil had some chances late in the game but was denied by the defensive line. What looked like a Canadian win wouldn’t stop there as Johnston capitalized on a penalty corner in the 59th minute, adding to his already impressive tally. 4-0. He continues to lead the tournament’s top goalscorer table in the men’s division with nine goals in four games.
As Canada refocuses their attention to the upcoming semifinal match against Argentina, who qualified automatically from pool standings, Pereira hopes to bring today’s momentum forward.
“We’re looking forward to a very good, tough game,” Pereira said in his post-match interview with PAHF. “Canada, Argentina…has always been the pinnacle of hockey for the Pan Am region for the last decade or two, so we’re really looking forward to a tough match. We know it’s a very good, skillful, Argentinian team, but I think with our Canadian grit and determination and our toughest on defense, we’re going to give them a fight.”
Tune in live on Canal CDO as Canada takes on the semifinals on Friday, January 28, 2022 at 2:00pm ET / 11:00am PT.
Our national teams are able to compete at the 2022 Pan American Cup thanks to the generous support from our sponsors. Thank you to our apparel partner, Indian Maharadja, our equipment supplier, Gryphon Hockey, and our club partners, West Vancouver FHC and Tamanawis Field Hockey Society, for supporting the Red Caribou and Wolf Pack!
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