It will be a famous winter of sport for Canada, as they finally make their return to the World Cup after a long absence.
Excitement levels in the country are already at an all-time level when it comes to representing and supporting the national soccer team, and the youthful squad put together by John Herdman will be looking to cause a number of shock results.
However, it could be argued that the World Cup this year is more about progressing the team. Nobody is expecting to see Canada among the top 10 in the World Cup winner odds.
The competition in four years’ time, however, will be the biggest that Canada has seen, as Les Rouges, alongside the United States and Mexico host the 2026 World Cup.
But, with Qatar in mind, how far could Canada go at the competition later this year?
Brief History Of Canada At World Cup
Canada’s national played their first international fixture in 1924, as they were narrowly beaten by Australia. However, the wait to compete at the prestigious World Cup wasn’t ended until the nation managed to qualify for the 1986 competition in Mexico.
Before earning qualification to the 2022 competition, this was the last time that Canada had managed to qualify for the prestigious competition. However, for the players involved, it was likely a competition that Canada would have liked to forget about very quickly.
Les Rouges failed to pick up a single point from their Group C campaign, as they were beaten by the Soviet Union, France and Hungary. Furthermore, they failed to score a goal, and allowance five goals against them. However, there is hope that the 2022 World Cup will work out more favourably.
Canada’s 2022 World Cup Group
Canada qualified for the World Cup in outstanding fashion, as they picked up 28 points from the third round. The 14 wins that they recorded during that campaign was the most that the nation had ever recorded in qualifying, which meant that Herdman and his side were ready for the challenge ahead of them, regardless of the teams that they were drawn alongside for Qatar.
In truth, they were possibly looking for a more favourable draw, as they will play their first World Cup fixture since 1986 against 2018’s third-place team, Belgium. That is quickly followed by a fixture against the runners-up from the 2018 World Cup, Croatia. Canada close their Group F campaign against African heavyweights Morocco in Doha on December 1st. But, the dreams will be there when the first ball is kicked.
Can Canada Make It Out Of The Group?
The task in front of Canada does look an extremely challenging one, as they were drawn against two of the four teams that made it through to the semi-finals in the previous World Cup. The opening fixture against Belgium certainly looks to be their most daunting challenge, as Belgium topped their qualifying group with six wins from eight, as they scored 25 goals and conceded just six. However, Canada could certainly take confidence from the fact that Belgium dropped points against both Wales and the Czech Republic.
Croatia’s run to the final four years ago was an incredible achievement, but their golden generation of talent has certainly come to an end. Luka Modric remains their star man, but aged 36, he isn’t getting younger. Croatia won seven of the ten qualifiers that they played, as they scored 21 times. However, a recent defeat against Austria and a draw against Slovenia could give Canada hope that they could cause a shock.
In all likelihood, Canada’s best chance of winning a game at the 2022 World Cup comes against their opponents on the final matchday, Morocco. The former Africa Cup of Nations champions may have won all qualifiers that they played to earn their spot at the World Cup, but their record at the tournament does leave a lot to be desired. They were eliminated at the 2018 World Cup without winning a game, while they were also eliminated at the group stage in both the 1994 and 1998 competitions.
What Would Be The Aim For Canada?
Herdman’s aim for the 2022 looks to be a simple one. It is all about building the experience of the players involved ahead of the competition in four years when Canada will be playing under slightly more pressure. It’s rare that Canada comes up against the calibre of opposition that they will in Qatar, which means it will be the perfect measuring stick to see how far this young squad has come.
The squad includes a lot of players that will be shaping the future of the Canadian game, including Lille’s Jonathan David, Porto’s Stephen Eustaquio and Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies. History also beckons for the young side this winter, as a goal in any of the three fixtures that they play will be welcomed like a win by supporters, as Canada are still waiting for the first goal in their history at the competition.