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Eustáquio set to captain Canada in Copa playoff

Stephen Eustaquio Canada Kevin De Bruyne Belgium Stephen Eustaquio and Kevin De Bruyne - The Canadian Press

Multiple sources tell TSN that FC Porto midfielder Stephen Eustáquio will captain Canada’s national’s men’s team for this Saturday’s Copa América playoff against Trinidad and Tobago.

It’s the first time the 27-year-old, born in Leamington, Ont. will wear the captain’s armband. Canada Soccer named Eustáquio its 2023 Men’s Player of the Year.

After rising through Portugal’s youth ranks, Eustáquio chose to represent Canada at the senior international level and made his debut in November 2019.

Eustáquio has made 34 international appearances for Canada, and featured in two group games at the 2022 World Cup.

“I love to play for Canada… if they gave me that responsibility [to be captain], I’m ready for it," Eustáquio told the media late last year.

Interim head coach Mauro Biello decided to pick a squad without several veterans, including long time goalkeeper and occasional captain Milan Borjan, midfielder/ forward Junior Hoilett and central defender Steven Vitoria.

The average age of Biello’s squad is under 25, and the coach told the media last Tuesday he was hoping to use Canada’s squad against Trinidad and Tobago as a “cultural reset.”

“If I had to analyze the squad, it's kind of slipped over the last year, post-World Cup [in late 2022 in Qatar]," Biello said to the media. "And for me, it's about reigniting that passion and bringing the young players that are in form. These are players that are going to be hungry. These are players that are going to want to be part of this journey. And I think, for sure, that is the mindset that I want coming into this camp."

If Canada defeats Trinidad and Tobago it will secure a spot in Copa América’s Group A this June, and would then open the 108-year-old continental tournament against World Cup champions Argentina on June 20.