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Canada Stephen Eustaquio Captain

Copa America On The Line: Canada vs Trinidad & Tobago Match Preview

By on March 23, 2024 0 640 Views

Today the Canadian Men’s National Team will play against Trinidad & Tobago in a crucial Concacaf Nations League Play-off in Frisco, Texas with huge ramifications for potential Copa America football. With the wounds from the loss against Jamaica last November still fresh in the minds of both fans and players alike, it will be a game that Canada cannot – and hopefully will not – take lightly.

Canada Stephen Eustaquio Captain
Photo Credit: John Jacques

No Room For Failure

“We have to make sure that it doesn’t happen”

Those were the words of new Canadian captain Stephen Eustaquio about the possibility of failing to qualify for Copa America on Saturday. The upcoming match against Trinidad and Tobago is quite simply a “do-or-die” game for Les Rouges. Win and you’re in, lose and you have no major tournament between now and when the 2026 World Cup is at your doorstep. One could even argue that the stakes have never been higher for a single one-off game in recent history.

“There is no room for disappointment,” explained Eustaquio to media on Friday. “There is only room for improvement, and we’re going to qualify tomorrow”.

Eustaquio’s words echo the mentality that many want Canada to adopt: there cannot be a possibility of failure, so the only outcome is to qualify. They already spurned the first chance to go to Copa with that shock defeat against Jamaica in Toronto. They must learn from their mistakes and they cannot allow themselves to fail once again and be forced to watch Copa America from their TV screens.

“It mean a lot, you know, that loss against Jamaica,” admitted Biello in his pre-match presser. “In my conversations, different conversations with Alphonso [Davies] and some of the players, and just how disappointed, how much that [performance] hurt.”

“We lived it now, and they know what that moment felt like, and for them now its about not making that moment happen again and doing what we need to do.”

With so much on the line and the whole country watching, the players will need to keep embody that mentality from their new captain: failure is simply not an option.

New Captain, New Era?

It was no surprise in the end, whose name came up when Biello announced his new captain for the upcoming match against Trinidad & Tobago. Eustaquio has been tipped to be the new long-standing captain after the last permanent captain Atiba Hutchinson, retired. And like his Women’s counterpart in Jessie Fleming after Christine Sinclair’s retirement, they were the obvious choice for the role.

“I think Stephticks all the boxes” responded Biello when asked for his reasoning for choosing him as captain. “You look at his career, and what he’s gone through. He joined Canada four or five years ago, he’s been able to grow in this team, he’s experienced the World Cup, he’s playing at the highest levels and Champions League, and then there’s a calmness about that stuff that I like, and I think that will be extremely important in a game like this.”

While Biello confirmed that this captaincy was just for this match, it is hard to see anyone else pry the armband off of him if they make it to Copa America. Not only is he hardworking and focused whenever called upon, but he is always honest with himself and his teammates. That is a fantastic trait in a leader, and one Eustaquio recognizes in himself.

“I can tell you that I’m just going to be me,” noted Eustaquio when asked about his leadership style. “That’s why I’m going to be captain, because Mauro saw the way that I go through camps, go through training and the games, and I just lead by my personality. And that’s the easy task.”

“Whenever I come to camp, I like to organize things and I like to make my team feel comfortable, even when we transition from a formation to another, I’m just that vocal guide that always tries to help.”

One can be sure that there will be a moment in tomorrow’s match where Canada will need that guidance, that stability from their captain. It will then be up to Eustaquio to rise to the occasion and lead his team to glory, as the face of this nation’s Men’s soccer team.

‘Canada-First’ Mentality

A few years ago, when John Herdman was still at the helm and the World Cup was still only a pipe dream, there was a mentality brewing in that Canadian team that revolved around the idea of “Brotherhood”. From it came some spectacular performances from the team that eventually led Canada to qualify for their first World Cup in 37 years.

But in the present time, that mentality has waned. The ‘Old Guard’ are starting to move on from the team, and younger and hungrier players are starting to come in. That ‘Brotherhood’ may still exist in the hearts of those players from that special time, but its time to move on to a new mentality. One that inspire both the old and the young in the squad to reach new heights.

“Brotherhood was a very strong word for us in the past,” explained Eustaquio on the mentality of the team. “We were brothers and we still are, but we’re in a different era and I think that its all about ‘Canada First’.”

Gone are the emphases on the ‘band of brothers forged in fire, fighting against all odds’. Now comes a mentality for a team that has proven itself once, and needs to prove itself once again. It is a mindset that puts at the forefront what the national team embodies: a whole nation. Its not just about the 23 men in the roster, but also the thousands of fans at the stadium, and the millions of fans watching from their screens. That is the mentality that both Biello, Eustqauio, and the rest of the team will bring into the match tomorrow. Should they win, they will know it will be a victory for something greater than themselves.

Header Image Photo Credit: John Jacques

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