Anybody's game between Reggae Boyz and Canada; Mexico favoured for win against Honduras

By Sports Desk November 16, 2023
Jamaica and Canada in action Jamaica and Canada in action Concacaf

As the excitement continues to build towards Thursday's start to this decisive window in the 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League, the other pair of League A quarter-final fixtures are also expected to serve up a treat, as Jamaica host Canada and Honduras welcome Mexico for their respective first leg matches on Friday.

All four sides are aiming to advance to the Concacaf Nations League final in March, as well as secure qualification to next year's CONMEBOL Copa America.

Jamaica vs. Canada

Friday's action kicks off with Jamaica and Canada renewing their rivalry at the National Stadium.

On the line is Jamaica’s unbeaten streak in Concacaf Nations League play, as they have amassed nine wins and five draws in 14 all-time Nations League games, including three wins and a draw in Group B on their way to the quarterfinals.

In 22 all-time matches between the two, the Canadians have won 10 and Jamaica six, with the other six fixtures ending as stalemates. However, Jamaica currently boasts and immensely talented group to improve their record, provided they execute accordingly.

Demarai Gray was sensational in the group stage, as he tallied three goals, while Shamar Nicholson continued his rich form in Nations League action with two goals. He also moved his all-time Nations League assists mark to six.

Bobby Reid, another player capable of producing the spectacular, supplied two goals and an assist. He was also present defensively in terms of his eight ball recoveries.

Canada, who is one of the teams to receive a bye to this phase of the tournament due to their FIFA rankings, enters the fray after finishing as runners-up in last year's edition.

They will be keen to make a return trip to the finals, but they will also be mindful of the fact that their previous match-up in Kingston ended in a goalless stalemate in October 2021, during Concacaf World Cup Qualifying, and also of the fact that Jamaica's squad has been significantly boosted since then.

Still, many of the players who led Canada to their second ever FIFA World Cup qualification, are back in the fold for this two-way series, including star striker Jonathan David, winger Junior Hoilett and flying left back Alphonso Davies.

David and Davies are tied for the most Nations League goals for Canada with five each, while Davies has 14 goals in 42 total appearances with Canada. Hoilett delivered top performances for Canada during the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup, scoring a goal and chipping in two assists.

That said, it is anybody's guess which way this first-leg engagement between two talented teams will go, if not again ending in a stalemate.

Honduras vs. Mexico

Long-time rivals Honduras and Mexico square off at the Estadio Nacional Chelato Ucles in Tegucigalpa.

This will mark the 44th encounter between the two nations, with Mexico accounting for 26 wins and Honduras seven, with the others 10 ending in stalemates. Mexico also outscored the opponents 81-29 in those games.

Honduras secured their quarterfinals berth by virtue of a second-place finish in Group B. After opening with a 0-1 loss to Jamaica, Honduras rallied to earn seven points from their final three matches.

Edwin Rodriguez was a force to be reckoned with in the group stage. He scored two goals and contributed two assists. 

Luis Palma was an attacking threat as well with a goal and two assists.

Deybi Flores has for years been a workhorse in the Honduras midfield, and the four matches in Group B were no exception. He completed 241 of 273 passes and made four ball recoveries.

Many of the players who helped Mexico win the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup will lead El Tricolor into the opening 90 minutes in Tegucigalpa. Those include goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who won the Gold Cup Golden Glove Award for the four clean sheets he recorded during the tournament.

Striker Santiago Gimenez, the hero of the final for his late goal to defeat Panama 1-0, is also back in the ranks, as is ever-dangerous free-kick specialist Luis Chavez, who scored two goals in the Gold Cup and led the team in shots with 18.

The last time Honduras faced Mexico was in the Gold Cup when the latter registered a comfortable 4-0 victory.

By all indications, Mexico are heavily favoured to secure three points.

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