TORONTO ( Associated Press) — Panama replaced Iran as Canada’s rival in a friendly match scheduled for Sunday in Vancouver.
Since May 12, the Canadian Soccer Association had announced Iran as the opponent for the warm-up match heading to the World Cup.
Last week, the meeting was canceled due to criticism from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The new rival was announced on Tuesday.
The Government of Canada notes that 55 citizens and 30 permanent residents of this country were among the 176 people who perished on January 8, 2020, when Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, minutes after take off from Tehran.
Panama failed to qualify for the World Cup, as it did for Russia 2018, its absolute World Cup debut. The Canalera team finished fifth in the CONCACAF qualifying round, one place away from the right to play a playoff against New Zealand.
In the FIFA ranking, Panama is in 61st place, 40 below Iran. They beat visiting Canada 1-0 in the last game of the tie, in March.
The Canadians reached that commitment already with the classification assured. They had not advanced to a World Cup since Mexico 1986.
Canada meets Curaçao in Vancouver on June 9 and visits Honduras on June 13. Both matches are in the CONCACAF Nations League.
The Canadian team, 38th in the ranking, opens its activity in Group F of the World Cup in Qatar against Belgium, considered the second best team in the world, on November 23. Four days later they will play against Croatia (16th) and will finish the first phase on December 1, against Morocco (24th).