The Columbus Crew will have five players on international duty this October with two more call-ups confirmed this weekend. Center back Jonathan Mensah will once again join Ghana while midfielder Liam Fraser was added to the Canada squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The other three players joining their national teams are Gyasi Zardes (USA), Lucas Zelarayan (Armenia), and Luis Diaz (Costa Rica).
Mensah has been a regular squad member for the Black Stars for the past decade. He was part of Ghana’s 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup squads and intends to get them back to the tournament in 2022. He was with the squad in September when Ghana earned a 1-0 win against Ethiopia and lost 1-0 to South Africa in Johannesburg.
In October, the Black Stars only have one opponent to focus on with two games against Zimbabwe within a week. The first match against the Warriors will be on Oct. 9 at home in Cape Coast. Ghana will then travel far to Southern Africa to play on the road against Zimbabwe in Harare on Oct. 12.
Ghana must finish in first place in its group to qualify for the final phase of CAF World Cup qualifying. The ten group winners in this current round of qualifying will be drawn into five matchups to determine the five African nations going to Qatar for the World Cup. Currently, they sit in second place just one point behind South Africa.
Over in North America, Liam Fraser has been selected to every Canada roster for the past year. September was a strong month for Fraser and the Canadians with one win and two draw to kick-off its CONCACAF qualifying campaign. The Canucks drew Honduras, picked up a point in Nashville against the United States, and beat El Salvador 3-0 in Toronto.
Canada’s first match in October will be its toughest with an Oct. 7 clash against Mexico at Estadio Azteca. The two sides met in the Gold Cup semifinals with the Canucks losing in extra time. Canada will stay on the road and travel to Kingston for an Oct. 10 match versus Jamaica. Fraser and company will end the trip back home in Toronto with an Oct. 13 game taking on Panama.
The strong September results for the Canucks have them in second place in the CONCACAF octagonal. The top three teams in the eight-team group will earn automatic berths to the 2022 World Cup with the fourth-place team advancing to an inter-continental playoff. Canada hasn’t made a World Cup since 1986 with this golden generation squad the best maybe ever in Canadian history.
The Columbus Crew will only miss Mensah, Fraser, Zardes, Zelarayan, and Diaz for training over the international break. The Black & Gold have a full two weeks of rest after its Sunday match against the Philadelphia Union with its following match taking place on Oct. 16 against Inter Miami at Lower.com Field.