Second international soccer game for Island fans

The world’s game is also apparently the Island’s game.

Due to overwhelming demand for the sold-out first match, tickets will go on sale Wednesday at 10 a.m. at Tickemaster.ca or 1-855-985-5000 for Canada’s second soccer game against Trinidad and Tobago at Westhills Stadium on March 31.

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Tickets for the first game March 27 were snapped up within a matter of hours when they went on sale last month.

“These are important games for Canada and we wanted to play them at home to give the team the best conditions possible to perform with the people of Vancouver Island providing us with that 12th man atmosphere,” said Canadian head coach Jorhn Herdman, in a statement.

“We are excited the community has had such a strong response and that we will have two jammed packed stadiums with fans young and old from football communities that don’t often get to see their national team heroes in the flesh.”

Victoria was a go-to venue for national team home games in the 1980s, when much of the Canadian team was comprised of players from the Island and Lower Mainland. But the March 27 game will be the first Canada men’s game on the Island since several 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and 1986 World Cup qualifying matches were played at Royal Athletic Park between 1983 and 1985.

It will be the first international ‘A’ match on the Island since the Canadian women’s team played at Centennial Stadium in 2002 and 2006. Victoria has, however, hosted groups in the FIFA U-20 women’s and men’s World Cups in 2002 and 2007, respectively, and CONCACAF men’s U-20 and U-17 tournaments.

The games against Trinidad and Tobago are crucial for Canada in regards to the qualification process for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The top six national teams in the CONCACAF region (North and Central America and Caribbean) by the cut-off period in late June will advance to the CONCACAF Hex, out of which the top three will advance to the 2022 World Cup. The 29 CONCACAF teams not making the Hex face a much longer route to making the World Cup through an arduous at-large worldwide qualifying process.

Canada is No. 73 in the FIFA world rankings and No. 7 in CONCACAF. It must catch FIFA No. 69 and CONCACAF No. 6 El Salvador to make the Hex. Canada was 30 points behind El Salvador last summer and has closed the gap to 14 points. Every point from every game matters.

“We are focused on doing our best to pick up points and close the gap on that sixth spot in CONCACAF,” said Herdman.

Trinidad and Tobago is ranked No. 104 in the world and has only an outside chance of making the CONCACAF Hex round for 2022 World Cup qualifying.

Canada is 7-2-2 all-time against Trinidad and Tobago.

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