Canada national team manager John Herdman got his side off to a winning start, picking up a convincing 3-0 win over the Caribbean outfit and minnows Martinique in the Gold Cup opener at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.
A Jonathan David brace a goal each from Scott Arfield and Junior Hoilett were enough for Les Rouges to pick up a key win in the first round of matches, as Mexico picked up a dominating 7-0 win over Cuba in the other game of the day.
Herdman had preferred to play a flat 4-2-3-1 shape at the Rose Bowl, with Alphonso Davies starting on the left flank and Junior Hoilett starting on the right flank. Scott Arfield partnered Samuel Piette in the middle of the work, while Jonathan Osorio played just behind Gent striker Jonathan David.
Marcus Godinho started at right-back, while Marc-Anthony Kaye started left-back. The experienced Atiba Hutchinson and Derek Cornelius started as their centre-back pairing, with Milan Borjan between the sticks.
The 19-year-old David opened the scoring for Canada in the 33rd minute, pouncing onto an uncalled for error by Martinique. The Caribbean side tried to build from the back but Daniele Herelle failed to keep the ball under his control, allowing David to find the bottom corner after latching onto the loose ball.
David got his second goal eight minutes into the second half. Piette’s long ball over the top found the striker in an onside position, thanks to the positioning of Martinique midfielder Karl Vitulin. The goal took David’s tally to as many as six goals in his first five games for the Canadian national team.
Cardiff City star Hoilett made it three for the day ten minutes later. David was involving in the build up again as it was his cross that caused all the problems in the box for Martinique. While Hoilett’s initial shot was saved and the rebound struck him on the knee and went in. This was the winger’s sixth goal for the national team.
Four minutes later- in the 67th minute, Scott Arfield scored what was probably the best goal of the game. His effort from outside the box was met firmly by his right foot and hit the far right corner of the goal. This was the Rangers’ star’s fourth international goal ever since he made a debut in 2016.
The game wasn’t the easiest of them in the first half as Martinique had their chances to score too, but Borjan’s save late in either halves helped Herdman’s side preserve a crucial clean sheet.
This was Canada’s only second win in 12 Gold Cup games, as they had failed to win a single game in the 2013 and the 2015 editions of the tournament. They had even lost to Martinique in the group stages of the 2013 edition of the Gold Cup, meaning they failed to qualify for the next round.
The last time Canada had won a Gold Cup game was in their first game of the previous campaign in 2017, beating French Guiana 4-2. Their next game sees them play Mexico on Wednesday in what will be a stiff encounter.