Junior Hoilett has moved to quell expectations surrounding his long-awaited competitive debut as Canada prepare at host Honduras in the fourth round of CONCACAF World Cup qualification.
The 25-year-old QPR winger represented the country of his birth for the first time in last month’s 1-1 friendly draw against Ghana – over four-and-a-half years on from rejecting his initial call-up.
Hoilett’s Jamaican parentage made him eligible to play for the Caribbean nation, while he expressed a desire to represent England earlier in his career at Blackburn Rovers, only to fall foul of the Home Nations agreement.
Having played 87 minutes against Ghana, Hoilett is expected to start as Canada aim for revenge in their opening Group A match over a country that humiliated them 8-1 during the preliminary rounds for Brazil 2014.
“I just thought the timing was right, now with this new World Cup campaign with a chance to play for the nation,” Hoilett told Canadian online football magazine Red Nation. “The timing was good to get involved with this World Cup campaign and push for Russia.
“I’ve just got to go and play my game, I don’t think I’m anybody’s saviour. We have a good squad here and everybody has the right goal to play for each other.”
The emphatic scoreline Honduras racked up against Canada in San Pedro Sula in October 2012 helped them to reach the World Cup finals, although they justified their underdogs tag by failing to garner a solitary point from group games against France, Ecuador and Switzerland.
Current Honduras boss Jorge Luis Pinto enjoyed a far more fruitful time in Brazil as coach of surprise quarter-finalists Costa Rica but he has been largely unable to recapture this magic with his latest squad.
Pinto is without key men Carlo Costly, Carlos Pavon or Andy Najar for this game, while Canada coach Benito Floro cannot call on Andre Hainault and Lucas Cavallini.
Flores will be able to select Julian de Guzman, though, with the midfielder to stay on international duty and miss out on the North American Soccer League championship game – his club Ottawa Fury facing New York Cosmos on Sunday.
“To miss a final, it’s heartbreaking and something no one ever wants to experience. It’s something the league itself needs to really look into in the future,” De Guzman said.
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