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Canadian men add friendly match against Bahrain ahead of Qatar World Cup

Canada has concluded its pre-World Cup plans, adding a warm-up game and camp in Bahrain ahead of next month’s soccer showcase in Qatar.

The Canadian men, ranked 41st in the world, will face No. 85 Bahrain on Nov. 11 in Manama ahead of a previously scheduled game Nov. 17 versus No. 24 Japan in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The Bahrain match, to be played at the Al-Khalifa Stadium, will be Canada’s last international test before the full squad gets together when the official FIFA international window opens for the World Cup.

Canada has never played Bahrain before. Bahrain failed to advance out of the second round of Asian World Cup qualifying, finishing third at 4-1-3 in a group behind leader Iran and Iraq.

Bahrain is coached by former Portuguese international Helio Sousa.

The Canadian team will start assembling in Manama, starting with players from out-of-season leagues like Major League Soccer whose playoffs wrap Nov. 5.

Players don’t have to be released for the World Cup until Nov. 14. The 32-team tournament runs Nov. 20 through Dec. 18.

“Bahrain have graciously agreed to host us, which provides the team with an opportunity to both acclimate to the Middle Eastern conditions and to gain important minutes at an international intensity for a number of players before the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 final roster selection,” Canada coach John Herdman said in a statement Thursday.

Canada opens Group F play at the World Cup on Nov. 23 versus No. 2 Belgium before facing No. 12 Croatia on Nov. 27 and No. 22 Morocco on Dec. 1.

The Canadians concluding atop the CONCACAF qualifying final round robin, compiling an impressive 14-2-4 record across three rounds en route to Qatar.

It’s the Canadian men’s first trip to the World Cup since 1986.

Steve Carr

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