The Lebanese national team has finally arrived in Toronto after a difficult journey. Following an escalation of tensions in neighbouring Syria impromptu roadblocks had been set up cutting the airport road, forcing the squad to negotiate with protesters to let them through in the dead of night.
The city of Mississauga, west of Toronto, will be base camp for the Cedars, who will train at Mississauga Valley Park before Saturday’s clash with Canada at Lamport Stadium.
"We are very proud to be hosting this game,” said Canada Rugby League president Corey Tukeli. “It is another step in the process for us to be known as a rugby league country. I am sure the Cedars will be well received by supporters in the city and the local Lebanese community can’t wait to get behind them.”
Lebanon Coach David Bayssari noted, “These opportunities are very rare so the chance to represent your country is something that everyone involved really cherishes and embraces. Obviously, we want to win but we are also willing to play our role in spreading the game in Canada.”
He added, “The boys have been impressive in training and due to all the new faces it’s just a matter of finding the right combinations.”
James Boustani, who, along with captain Robin Hachache, played in the 2011 World Cup qualification campaign for Lebanon, was eager to get to grips with the Canadians.
“I really can’t wait for Saturday,” said Boustani. “I am always proud to wear the colours and I am looking forward to running around with all the new young boys in the squad. I have been told they are expecting a good size crowd so that will add to the atmosphere and it should be a lot of fun.”