Canadian men hold second-ranked France to a scoreless draw in men's soccer friendly | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Canadian men hold second-ranked France to a scoreless draw in men's soccer friendly

Canada's Liam Millar controls the ball during the international friendly soccer match between France and Canada at the Matmut Atlantique stadium in Bordeaux, southwestern France, Sunday, June 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Yohan Bonnet)
Original Publication Date June 09, 2024 - 2:26 PM

BORDEAUX, France - Coach Jesse Marsch liked what he saw in Canada's scoreless draw with second-ranked France. He also sees room for improvement.

His 49th-ranked team has already made strides, following up Thursday's 4-0 loss to the seventh-ranked Dutch with a poised, organized performance Sunday against the 2022 World Cup runner-up.

"It was a big step forward," Marsch said. "But there's still so much work to be done. What I liked was that a lot of the individual behaviours were clearer today than against the Dutch. And collective organization for what we wanted to do in all phases of the game was better. But there's still a lot to do to get even better for me."

And not much time to do it with top-ranked Argentina, the World Cup champion, awaiting Canada in the June 20 Copa America opener in Atlanta.

While it wasn't a win, the draw against elite opposition will join the Canadian men's 0-0 tie with Brazil in the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup and 1-1 tie with Brazil in Edmonton ahead of the 1994 World Cup as results to remember.

Marsch's feet remain firmly planted to the ground, however.

"It's one game. It's a friendly. It's against a very good opponent and it's a draw, it's not a win. But obviously there's confidence in the group right now," said the 50-year-old American, who was appointed coach May 13.

Still the draw looks good in the CONCACAF context of the 11th-ranked Americans' 5-1 loss to No. 12 Colombia on Saturday and No. 14 Mexico's 4-0 loss to No. 15 Uruguay on Wednesday.

The French had the better of a scoreless first half, but the Canadians coolly dealt with their attacks and had their own spells of possession. Canadian 'keeper Maxime Crepeau was up to the task when called upon.

It was more of the same to start the second half, but Canada began to pose more questions as the game wore on. William Saliba made a key block to prevent a Jonathan David cross from finding substitute Jonathan Osorio in front of goal in the 78th minute.

The French came close in stoppage time.

An unmarked Randal Kolo Muani had a glorious chance but sent his header wide. Crepeau then came out to force substitute Kylian Mbappe away from goal, later saving the star forward's shot in the 96th minute.

But while Canada had some good buildups, it didn't threaten goalkeeper Mike Maignan. France outshot Canada 13-7 (4-0 in shots on target) and had seven corners to Canada's one before a lively crowd at the 42,00-capacity Stade Matmut Atlantique.

The Canadian players will get a break before regrouping in Atlanta for Copa America where they will face No. 32 Peru and No. 42 Chile in Group A play after Argentina.

Marsch made just one change to the starting 11 with Crepeau replacing Dayne St. Clair in goal. He made good on his promise to rotate the captaincy with Stephen Eustaquio getting the armband Sunday after Alphonso Davies led the team out against the Dutch.

Davies combined well Sunday with winger Liam Millar, who rattled a shot off the crossbar in the 47th minute.

Crepeau was called upon early.

He got his body in the way of a N'Golo Kante shot from a tight angle in the eighth minute. Two minutes later, Crepeau made an even better save to push a dangerous Marcus Thuram shot to safety off the crossbar.

Fullback Richie Laryea, who had seen just 11 minutes of action since injuring his hamstring in Toronto FC's season opener Feb. 25, came on in the 63rd minute for Canada.

Osorio, Kamal Miller, Kyle Hebert, Jacob Shaffelburg and Tani Oluwaseyi, earning his first cap, followed Laryea off the bench.

France, like the Netherlands, is gearing up for Euro 24, which kicks off Friday in Germany. Didier Deschamps' squad opens Group D play against No. 25 Austria on June 17.

The French came into the game having lost just two of their last 13 outings (10-2-1) — both losses to Germany — since losing a penalty shootout to Argentina in the 2022 World Cup final.

France was coming off a 3-0 win Wednesday over No. 87 Luxembourg with Mbappe setting up the first two goals and scoring the third.

Deschamps made four changes to his starting 11. The 37-year-old Olivier Giroud, who will join Los Angeles FC this summer, led the attack and captained the side.

The French starters came from a Who's Who of club football, including AC Milan, Arsenal, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.

The June contests represent Canada's highest-ranked opponents since the 2022 World Cup when the Canadian men lost 1-0 to then-second-ranked Belgium.

The Canadian men had faced France just once before, in their first-ever game at the FIFA World Cup in 1986 in Mexico. A star-studded French side needed a 79th-minute goal by Jean-Pierre Papin to win 1-0.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2024.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2024
The Canadian Press

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