In assembling his team in Florida for a pair of World Cup qualifiers, Canada coach John Herdman talked of the many hoops needed to jump through to get players into camp during a pandemic.
But he enthused about the success of COVID-19 protocols with the Canadian men.
“We’ve had no COVID [positive] tests on the entry [to camp] which is fantastic. People have done a great job individually and collectively and the team is primed to go,” he said prior to games against Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
It takes two to tango, however.
While the Bermuda game went off with a hitch Thursday, with Canada winning 5-1 in Orlando, incomplete COVID-19 protocols in the Cayman Islands camp prompted FIFA to delay Sunday’s meeting between the two until Monday.
FIFA said the decision was made after the Cayman Islands Football Association was unable to submit the required COVID-19 testing information “in time” for Sunday’s game, which was scheduled to kick off at 4 p.m. ET.
The postponement was “to ensure the safety of all participants in the match,” according to FIFA.
The two sides will now meet at 6 p.m. Monday at Bradenton’s IMG Academy.
Canada Soccer said teams are required to provide FIFA with negative COVID-19 PCR test results for all players and staff taken no earlier than 72 hours prior to accessing the venue. Without the test results, you can’t access the stadium.
In a two-paragraph statement, Canada Soccer said it had “engaged a laboratory to be on-site with the team to conduct its testing” and that all of its players and staff had received negative testing prior to arriving and while in camp in Florida.
The Canadian team was still at its hotel in nearby Sarasota when it got news of the problem on Sunday.
The Caymans played Wednesday in Suriname, losing 3-0 in Paramaribo.
Sunday’s game was officially a home game for the Caymans. But the three-island group with a population of some 63,000 has the same 14-day quarantine as Canada, so opted to shift the site to Bradenton.
The current FIFA international window runs through Tuesday for CONCACAF teams. But the delay in the Cayman game means extending whatever quarantines are in place at the other end when players return home.
Canada captain Atiba Hutchinson left Friday to return to his club team Besiktas in Turkey as part of an apparent prearranged deal.
The Canadian men are ranked 73rd in the world, 120 places above the Cayman part-timers.
Thirty CONCACAF countries have been split into six groups in the first round of qualifying in the region that covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. Only the six group winners will advance.
No. 141 Suriname currently leads Canada’s group, improving to 2-0-0 with a 6-0 thumping of No. 200 Aruba on Saturday in Bradenton.