Canada 4 – Honduras 1 | Ismaël Koné and the post-Hutchinson era

In stoppage time at the end of the first half, Ismaël Koné received the ball on the edge of the area. He settled in, erased his marker without difficulty and took a powerful curling shot that landed in the opposing goalkeeper’s gloves.

Earlier in the game, the Quebecer skillfully controlled a throw-in from Cyle Larin with his thigh before his pretty half-volley hit a rival’s arm in the box and gave the Canadians a penalty. Koné, in absolute confidence, was sharp throughout the meeting.

And despite Larin’s failure to convert the penalty that would have earned him a hat-trick, Canada won 4-1 against Honduras in the Nations League on Tuesday night in Toronto.

“It’s one of the best performances for a Canadian midfielder that I’ve seen! said Maple Leaf coach John Herdman after the game of Koné.

In fact, Herdman added, “It’s a special performance. It confirms his emergence as a great player. He was level with Jonathan David, Alphonso Davies and Tajon Buchanan tonight. »

The three midfielders were dominant. Jonathan Osorio offered the first goal of the game to Larin on a silver platter and scored the last goal for his team. For his part, Stephen Eustáquio sent a corner kick directly to Larin’s head to lead to the second goal for the Reds. Without forgetting Koné, who was a metronome – and a marathoner – in the axis.

In short, a collective performance that made people forget the inevitable decline of Atiba Hutchinson.

Elsewhere, although he was “delighted” with the performance of his midfielders, Herdman took the time to throw some pointers at the quality of the rivals in CONCACAF.

“The midfielders played well, but if we are serious in our ambitions, we have to face big nations. We must be prepared to compete with the Marcelo Brozović, Luka Modrić and Mateo Kovačić of this world. It’s another level. Playing CONCACAF opponents doesn’t help. If we don’t take control of our destiny and we don’t face top opponents, we’re wasting our time. »

“No limit for Koné”

Koné made his professional debut in February 2022 in a Champions League game in a CF Montreal uniform. A year and a month later, the Watford man has established himself as a part of the Canadian squad.

Il [Koné] is like a sponge. He always wants to learn more. […] If he keeps his feet on the ground, there are no limits for him. He is the master of his destiny.

John Herdman, Canada coach

Ahead of his very first game in the maple leaf uniform in Canada, the 20-year-old was honored as Canada’s Young Player of the Year. For the second game in a row, the Montrealer found himself in the starting lineup in place of the eternal Hutchinson.

The captain of the Canadian team does not hold a grudge against his teammate. He particularly wanted to highlight his performance after the duel: “He plays in a very mature way. He is not stressed and plays as if he were in his court. Its potential is very high. »

Hutchinson who, at 40, blew out the candles of twice as many cakes as Koné, was able to share the field with his successor for around thirty minutes. However, he can boast of having remained standing longer than his counterpart, while Koné, who crisscrossed the field throughout the game, collapsed during stoppage time, exhausted.

If this international window was an indication of Koné’s future with the Canadian team, he can hope to take over from the midfield of the Canadian selection. And maybe like Hutchinson, he will reach the plateau of 100 caps with Canada.

Hutchinson lucidly admitted he was in his final moments with the Canadian team and wanted to end his international career with a trophy. A possibility given the result of the match.

This victory allowed the Canadians to confirm their place in the semi-finals of the League of Nations. The semi-finals are scheduled for June 15 in Las Vegas with the final following three days later. The Maple Leaf will cross swords with Panama while the other semi-final will oppose the United States to Mexico.

The win also allowed Canada to preserve its unbeaten streak in Toronto. John Herdman’s men have not been defeated in the Queen City in their last 21 meetings, since 2011.


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