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Canadian men get another high-profile test this summer with friendly in France

The Canadian men are getting another high-profile test in advance of this summer's Copa America. Canada Soccer has confirmed the 49th-ranked Canadians will play No.

The Canadian men are getting another high-profile test in advance of this summer's Copa America.

Canada Soccer has confirmed the 49th-ranked Canadians will play No. 2 France on June 9 at the Matmut Atlantique in Bordeaux, a 42,115-capacity stadium that is home to Ligue 2's FC Girondins de Bordeaux. The France game comes three days after a previously announced friendly with the seventh-ranked Netherlands at Stadion Feijenoord in Rotterdam.

Canada is preparing for Copa America, where it is one of six CONCACAF guest teams at the South American championship that runs June 20 to July 14 in 14 U.S. cities. France and the Netherlands are gearing up for Euro 24, which kicks off June 14 in Germany.

With Canada opening Copa America against No. 1 Argentina on June 20 in Atlanta, the Canadian men will face three top-10 teams in two weeks.

"It's amazing," said Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio, who has won 71 caps for Canada. "These are top top teams in the world. As a competitor, it what's you want. It's the only way to get better. It's the only way to improve and to really reach your potential level.

"This is what this team needs. This team needs to battle against the best, so that we can really get a taste for how it feels to be in games like that."

L'Equipe, the French sports daily, reported earlier this month that a France-Canada friendly was in the works as the last test for Didier Deschamps' squad ahead of its Euro Group D opener against No. 25 Austria on June 17.

The Canadian men have faced France just once before, in their first-ever game at the FIFA World Cup in 1986 in Mexico. A star-studded French side needed a 79th-minute goal by Jean-Pierre Papin to win 1-0.

The June games represent Canada's highest-ranked opponents since the 2022 World Cup when the Canadian men lost 1-0 to then-second-ranked Belgium.

Canada also faces No. 32 Peru and No. 42 Chile in Group A play at Copa America.

After Copa America, the Canadians are set to face No. 14 Mexico during the September international window with the Sept. 10 game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. 

Canada Soccer says the Argentina, France and Netherlands games will bring the number of current top-20 opponents Canada will have faced to nine in a little more than 18 months, joining Belgium (No. 3), Croatia (No. 10), the U.S. (No. 11), Morocco (No. 13), Uruguay (No. 15) and Japan (No. 18).

Canada was beaten 2-0 by Uruguay and edged Japan 2-1 in warm-up matches for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar where it lost to Belgium (1-0), Croatia (4-1) and Morocco (2-1) in group play. The Canadians faced the U.S. twice in that time period, losing a penalty shootout in the 2023 Gold Cup quarterfinal and 2-0 in the CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal.

Canada has become a more attractive opponent because of its role as 2026 World Cup co-host and the men's impressive run in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

"At the end of the day, however it got done is great," Osorio said of the star-studded fixture list. "What matters is they're happening."

The summer schedule evokes memories of the buildup to the 1994 World Cup in the U.S. Canada, which did not qualify for the soccer showcase but was an attractive pre-tournament opponent due to geography if nothing else, hosted Brazil, German, Spain and the Netherlands over eight days.

It tied Brazil 1-1 in Edmonton and lost to Germany (2-0) and the Netherlands (3-0) in Toronto and Spain (2-0) in Montreal. The Canadians went into the Brazil match ranked 58th in the world, climbing to No. 54 in advance of the other three games.

Brazil went on to win the '94 World Cup, defeating Italy in a storied penalty shootout in the final before 94,000-plus at the Rose Bowl. Germany, the Netherlands and Spain lost in the quarterfinals.


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 16, 2024

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press