Canada will get a taste of World Cup opposition in September with games in Europe against Qatar and Uruguay ahead of the men’s soccer showcase in Qatar in November.
Both matches will take place in Vienna, against Qatar on Sept. 23 and Uruguay on Sept. 27. Sept. 19-27 marks the last FIFA international window before Qatar.
Uruguay is ranked 13th in the world while Qatar, the reigning AFC Asian Cup champions, is No. 49. The Canadian men are currently 43rd.
“We have an opportunity to experience two FIFA World Cup opponents within a similar time frame as a FIFA World Cup schedule, so these two matches will provide our players and staff with a chance to rehearse our on- and off-the-field processes and systems aligned to the competition’s three-day turnaround,” Canada coach John Herdman said in a statement.
“With the second match against Uruguay, it will be a genuine Tier 1 test given the depth and quality of their players which gives us an opportunity to evaluate our squad and our approach.”
Canada has played Uruguay just once, losing 3-1 at the Orange Bowl in February 1986. The game was part of the Miami Cup, a six-team tournament designed as a warmup for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico — which marked Canada’s only previous other participation at the World Cup.
The Canadian men have never faced Qatar.
Host Qatar will play out of Group A at the World Cup, alongside Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands. Uruguay is in Group H with Portugal, Ghana and South Korea.
Drawn in Group F, the Canadians are scheduled to face No. 2 Belgium on Nov. 23, No. 15 Croatia on Nov. 27 and No. 22 Morocco on Dec. 1.
The September window marks Canada’s first away trip to Europe since March 2018. Canada last played an Asian opponent in November 2016 and a South American team in 2014.
Herdman’s team last played in June, beating No. 84 Curacao 4-0 in Vancouver and losing 2-1 to No. 80 Honduras in San Pedro Sula in CONCACAF Nations League play.
A warmup match against Iran earlier in June was called off due to public criticism over the opposition. Panama replaced Iran as the June 5 opponent in Vancouver but the game was called off due to an impasse in contract discussions between the players and Canada Soccer.
Canada qualified for Qatar on March 27 with a 4-0 victory over Jamaica at Toronto’s BMO Field. The Canadians wrapped up their qualifying campaign March 30 in Panama, finishing atop the final qualifying round standings in CONCACAF at 8-2-4.
—Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press