Vancouver (AFP) – Alphonso Davies celebrated his return to international duty with two goals Thursday as World Cup-bound Canada thrashed Curacao 4-0 in the CONCACAF Nations League.
The 21-year-old Bayern Munich star missed Canada’s last six matches after developing symptoms of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, after Covid-19.
Sidelined since December, he had returned to Bayern’s starting lineup for their April 6 Champions League quarter-final against Villarreal of Spain.
The flying full-back converted a penalty in the 27th minute to open the scoring for Canada in Vancouver after he was brought down in the box by Curacao defender Jurien Gaari.
He waved off teammate Cyle Larin and slotted left-footed past goalkeeper Eloy Room.
Davies added his second in the 71st minute, a tap-in after a ball cut back into the box by Richie Laryea to make it 3-0.
Shortly thereafter Davies, who made his professional debut in Vancouver for MLS’s Whitecaps, left the match to a standing ovation.
Steven Vitoria with a 42nd-minute header and Lucas Cavallini in the 85th off a cross from Samuel Adekugbe also scored for Canada in a convincing victory over a Curacao side that had beaten Honduras 2-1 in San Pedro Sula on Monday.
The victory, and Davies’s seamless return, will be a boost for John Herdman’s Canada, who were playing for the first time since locking up their first World Cup berth in 36 years.
A June 5 friendly against fellow World Cup qualifiers Iran was cancelled after a backlash against the game led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Families of passengers killed when Iranian armed forces shot down Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 after take-off from Tehran on January 8, 2020, had also criticized the fixture.
Panama were drafted in as last-minute opponents for the friendly, but the match was cancelled hours before kickoff when players went on strike over a proposed new labor deal.
Negotiations between the sides are continuing. Canada Soccer’s acting general secretary Earl Cochrane said Wednesday that talks had been “positive,” while veteran captain Atiba Hutchinson said players still wanted “transparency” about the federation’s finances.
Herdman said this week he could appreciate the players’ stance as well as the “financial realities” facing Canada Soccer. But he’s also aware that preparation time for the World Cup in November-December is limited.
“Qatar is just around the corner,” said Herdman, whose side will face Belgium, Croatia and Morocco in Group F.
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