FC Toronto striker Ayo Akinola will get a chance to see him live the second half next month at the Canadian national team camp in Florida.
The 20-year-old Aquinola, who was born in Detroit, but when he moved to Canada, has the right to play for Canada, the USA and Nigeria. He made his debut for the U.S. senior team earlier this month, scoring in a 6-0 win over El Salvador, but was unbound because the match was friendly.
Aquinola, whose Canadian younger brother Tom played in the Canadian youth team, went through the American ranks and played at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India.
Canada Soccer stayed in touch with Akinol, who turned his head with five goals in two games at the MLS Back Back tournament in July. He finished this season with nine goals in 15 MLS games.
“He makes big decisions. We respect that very much,” said Canadian coach John Herdman. “The only thing he wanted was that opportunity to experience Canada. There are big advantages and disadvantages to the decision in both directions, whether it’s the United States or Canada.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations in the last seven, eight months and he kept his word to come in with us,” he added. “We’ll just be our own and show him what Canada has to offer.”
Aquinola still has time to think about her international future. But the clock is ticking with the qualifications for the World Cup and the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2021.
The 28-player Canadian camp is scheduled to take place from January 9 to 24 in a balloon at the IMG Center in Bradenton, Fla, where the WNBA is back in action. It will include two training clashes against the as-yet-unannounced opposition, as well as a conflict within Canada in Canada.
Marcelo Flores is another talent with international opportunities invited to camp. The 17-year-old striker, born in Canada, who is in the Arsenal lineup, has already performed in the Mexican youth program thanks to his father’s bloodline. Canada Soccer would like to ask for it.
Two more invited to the camp have already opted for Canada.
Theo Corbeanu, an 18-year-old from Hamilton, transferred fidelity from Romania to Canada. He arrived on the bench on Monday due to the Wolves ’2-1 defeat at Burnley in English Premier League action.
Frank Sturing, a 23-year-old defense attorney from the Netherlands who qualifies for Canada through his parents ’bloodlines, also applied for Canada. The center-back, who currently plays for FC Den Bosch in the Dutch second division, was part of a larger Canadian squad for the postponed CONCACAF Olympic qualifying championship.
“Several good things were done behind the scenes during this period,” Herdman said, referring to the players who chose Canada.
Herdman has a lot of work to do in a short time, with the CONCACAF World Cup and Olympic qualifiers starting in March and the Gold Cup in July. And he knows things could change quickly given the pandemic.
The January camp falls outside FIFA’s international calendar, so Herdman decided to focus on off-season players in North America and Europe. Twenty-two of the 28 players are from Major League Soccer, including seven from FC Toronto, six from Montreal Impact and four from Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Canadians, who are currently ranked 72nd in the world, have not played since January 15 when they lost to Iceland in Irvine, California with 1: 0. 7 and 10.
The pandemic then established the Canadian program. The men’s camp planned for November in Europe has been canceled on the advice of medical experts.
Herdman knows that COVID-19 could still affect the January camp. The two invitees – Flores and Corbeanu – are with English clubs and travel to and from Britain complicated by the discovery of a new strain of the virus there.
Marcos Bustos of Pacific FC is a lone Canadian Premier League player invited even though Impact defender Joel Waterman has previously played for FC Cavalry.
Aquinola, Corbeanu, Flores, Sturing and Waterman are among the 11 newcomers to the senior team. The others are Cristian Gutierrez from Whitecaps, Dayne St. Clair of Minnesota United, Alistair Johnston of Nashville SC, Tajon Buchanan of New England Revolution, Ralph Priso of Toronto FC and Belal Halbouni of German SV Werder of Bremen.
Gutierrez, who was born in Quebec but moved to Chile when he was three, represented Chile at the youth level but is in the process of changing his international loyalty.
Buchanan, Johnston and St. Clair turned in the MLS this season, while Priso looked older than his years in short appearances for Toronto.
There are 18 players born in 1997 or later, which makes them eligible for the re-scheduled CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championships.
Veterans include Mark-Anthony Kaye of FC Los Angeles, Lucas Cavallini and Maxime Crepeau of Whitecaps, Richie Larye and Jonathan Osorio of FC Toronto, Samuel Piette of Impact, Tesho Akindele of SC Orlando City and Samuel Adekugbe of Valerenga, Norway. Football.
Canada should finally open its qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup on March 25 at home in Bermuda, which is the first of a possible 20 matches if Canadians book a ticket to Qatar.
After opening the Group B match against no. 169 Bermuda, the Canadians play on March 28 in 193rd place in the Cayman Islands and on June 5 in 200th Aruba, before finishing the game in the first round on June 8 at home with 141 Suriname.
Goalkeepers: Maxime Crepeau, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); James Pantemis, Montreal Impact (MLS); Dayne St. Clair, Minnesota United FC (MLS).
Defenders: Derek Cornelius, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Belal Halbouni, SV Werder Bremen II (Germany); Kamal Miller, Montreal Impact (MLS); Frank Sturing, FC Den Bosch (Netherlands); Joel Waterman, Montreal Impact (MLS); Samuel Adekugbe, Valerenga Football (Norway); Zorhan Bassong, Montreal Impact (MLS); Zachary Brault-Guillard, Montreal Impact (MLS); Tajon Buchanan, New England Revolution (MLS); Cristian Gutierrez, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Alistair Johnston, Nashville SC (MLS); Richie Laryea, Toronto FC (MLS).
Midfielders: Tesho Akindele, Orlando City SC (MLS); Marco Bustos, Pacific FC (CPL); Liam Fraser, FC Toronto (MLS); Mark-Anthony Kaye, FC Los Angeles (MLS); Noble Okello, FC Toronto (MLS): Jonathan Osorio, FC Toronto (MLS); Samuel Piette, Montreal Impact (MLS); Ralph Priso, FC Toronto (MLS).
Forwards: Ayo Akinola, FC Toronto (MLS); Lucas Cavallini, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Marcelo Flores, Arsenal (England); Jayden Nelson, FC Toronto (MLS); Theo Corbeanu, Wolverhampton Wanderers (England).
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 23, 2020