Alphonso Davies returns home to Edmonton to lead Canada closer to World Cup berth

Click to play video: 'Alphonso Davies prepares for World Cup qualifying matches in Edmonton'
Alphonso Davies prepares for World Cup qualifying matches in Edmonton
WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton could be part of Canadian soccer history. A pair of wins at Commonwealth Stadium will go a long way towards the Canadian men's national soccer team securing a World Cup spot for only the second time. As Slav Kornik reports, the team's biggest star, local product Alphonso Davies, is embracing the opportunity – Nov 10, 2021

Alphonso Davies was all smiles when he walked on the field at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium ahead of Team Canada’s practice Wednesday. You can’t blame the 21-year-old Bayern Munich star for being in a good mood this week.

Team Canada’s Alphonso Davies has a laugh with teammates during a practice session in Edmonton, Alta., on Wednesday November 10, 2021. Canada takes on Costa Rica in their World Cup match on Friday November 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Davies is preparing to play in his home city for the first time as a member of Canada’s national men’s soccer team.

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“It feels good,” he said.

“I’m happy to be back. I’m happy to play in Commonwealth Stadium with the national team. It’s amazing.”

“He’s excited to be back; I can sense it,” Team Canada head coach John Herdman said.

“He’s smiling, he’s laughing; I mean, who wouldn’t be? It’s a kid’s dream isn’t it?”

READ MORE: Spotlight turns to Alphonso Davies ahead of Canada’s World Cup qualifiers in Edmonton

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Canada will host Costa Rica at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday and Mexico on Tuesday, Nov. 16. The Canadian team currently sits third in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying standings, with the top three teams earning an automatic berth into the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 tournament. A pair of wins in Edmonton will put Canada in an outstanding position to qualify for its first World Cup since 1986.

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There is pressure on Davies to lead Canada in its upcoming matches in Edmonton, but he said the moment will not be too big for him.

The Canadian men’s soccer team at practice preparing for a World Cup qualifying match in Edmonton against Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Slav Kornik, Global News

“Obviously there will be a little bit of butterflies, but at the end of the day, once the whistle blows, it’s just me and the team focusing on the task ahead of us, which is to get the three points on Friday,” Davies said.

READ MORE: World Cup qualifying games being played in Edmonton: ‘Come be a part of history’

Herdman is advising his young star to “play the game, not the occasion.”

“If he plays the game and he really commits to everything he’s got to do in that red shirt with this group of men, the crowd will come with him, we know that,” the coach said.

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Davies’ parents will be in attendance for both matches. It will be the first time the 21-year-old will play in front of his parents since he left Edmonton to pursue his soccer dreams as a teenager.

“(I) saw my parents, (I’m) excited to see them,” Davies said. “I had a big smile on my face. My dad’s really excited for the game, so I’m happy that he’s excited for us as well.”

“What a moment for a kid and well-deserved because he shined the spotlight on our sport last year when we didn’t have too much to smile about, so he gets his moment and I’m hoping he takes it,” Herdman said.

READ MORE: Edmonton to host World Cup qualifiers in November, welcoming Costa Rica, Mexico

Costa Rica is sixth in the CONCACAF standings, six points back of Canada. Davies and the rest of the team are expecting a tough match Friday night despite their position in the standings and Canada’s home pitch advantage.

“We think Costa Rica’s a good team,” Davies said. “We can’t take anything away from Costa Rica. We know they made it to the World Cup 2018. They’re a good team coming into this game.”

Davies has 10 goals and 15 assists in 28 appearances with the Canadian national team. The Edmontonian hopes to add to those totals in front of his home crowd on Friday.

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Click to play video: 'Soccer skills of Alphonso Davies raises Canada’s World Cup hopes'
Soccer skills of Alphonso Davies raises Canada’s World Cup hopes

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