World Cup countdown: mum’s the word on squad announcements
With less than 72 hours until kick-off in the opening World Cup qualifier between Bermuda and Canada, both are keeping their respective squad lists closely guarded.
While neither nation has officially announced its squad — at the time of publication — ahead of the group B encounter at the Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, on Thursday, details have emerged of certain players’ inclusion.
Although talisman Nahki Wells is set to miss out owing to recent Covid-19 regulations from the Bureau of the Fifa Council, other personnel from overseas were poised to be among Kyle Lightbourne’s squad and make the trip to the United States yesterday.
Among that contingent are goalkeeper Dale Eve, while Watford’s Kane Crichlow, J'Nai Steede and Luke Robinson could be in line for senior debuts, having travelled back from England to undergo the required quarantine period.
Meanwhile, questions remain over the availability of Reggie Lambe, who also returned to the island before the qualifying campaign, which will also see Bermuda face Aruba at the IMG Academy Complex in Bradenton, Florida, on March 30.
John Herdman previously stated his intent to call on Canada’s best players for the match. However, it still remains to be seen if that will be the case with the complexities surrounding the pandemic and the availability of their European-based stars.
It could mean the regional powerhouse may not be able to call upon the likes of talisman Alphonso Davies, of Bayern Munich, as well as other senior personnel including Jonathan David (Lille), Ricardo Ferreira (Farense) and Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City).
However, reports in Canada have surfaced revealing that Montreal defenders Kamal Miller and Joel Waterman as well as midfielder Samuel Piette have been called up for the first round of qualifiers.
Besiktas in Turkey have also announced that veteran midfielder Atiba Hutchinson and forward Cyle Larin have been included in Herdman’s squad.
Meanwhile, one key player who will not be involved is Scott Arfield, who revealed he will not leave Scottish champions Rangers to go on international duty with his adopted nation.
The midfielder switched international allegiances from Scotland to Canada in March 2016 and became captain ahead of the Concacaf Gold Cup a year later.
Only the six group winners move on, with the top team in group B, which also includes Surinam and Cayman Islands, will face the winner of group E, which consists of Haiti, Nicaragua, Belize, St Lucia and Turks & Caicos, in a two-legged tie in June.
The three teams to progress through the first two rounds of qualifying advance to the final round in the region, joining Mexico, United States, Jamaica, Costa Rica and Honduras.
The eight teams will face one another home and away, with the top three qualifying automatically for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The fourth team will take part in an intercontinental play-off to seal a spot.