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CanMNT: John Herdman prepared for WCQ 'marathon' after Honduras draw

Chris Smith
Canada had to come from a goal behind to draw 1-1 with Honduras.
Canada had to come from a goal behind to draw 1-1 with Honduras. / Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Canada Men's National Team (CanMNT) manager John Herdman has described his side's World Cup qualification campaign as a 'marathon' following a draw with Honduras.

The Canucks came from 1-0 down to draw 1-1 in their opening qualifier on Thursday night, with a second-half spot-kick from Besiktas striker Cyle Larin enough to overturn Alexander Lopez's penalty.

With a cast of exciting young talents including Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, as well as Tajon Buchanan who is due to join Club Brugge from New England Revolution in January, many are expecting Canada to make a serious bid to qualify for their first World Cup since 1986.

With that in mind, a draw at home with Honduras, who had lost their previous two games, might be seen as something of a disappointment. Indeed, Canada managed just three shots on target to Honduras' six and had to overcome some periods of sustained pressure, especially in the first half.

But Herdman is optimistic his side can improve as the campaign progresses.

"It's the start of a journey and we've got the ability to get better," he told reporters (via TSN). "That's the exciting thing for us."

Herdman then compared the notoriously difficult Concacaf qualifying campaign to a "marathon", insisting there's more to come and pointing out that his side did create a couple of promising openings.

"It's going to be a marathon," he added. "We've got a long way to go. The first game at home, it was a three-point focus. But these boys were in a number of occasions an inch, an inch away from making it one of those nights where the crowds goes home very happy."

Herdman admitted going in 1-0 down at half-time was a wake-up call and a "holy sh**" moment.

“Entering the second half, it was like a holy sh** moment,” the 46-year-old declared. “Like wow, this is real. I think the fantasy was that we were going to go out there and it was going to be a tiki-taka evening, and we were going to score 15 goals by half time, but the reality was, that Honduras team are well organized.”

But the power of CanMNT's first home crowd in over two years was enough to rally them to a draw, even if they couldn't secure a memorable comeback win.

“It was unbelievable,” defender Alistair Johnston said of the atmosphere after the game. “In that whole 2nd half you could feel it, and that’s one of the biggest perks of playing at home.”

Things only get tougher from here for Canada, who face the United States in Nashville on Sunday night before hosting El Salvador on Wednesday.