The last time a men’s soccer team from Canada flexed their muscles on the world stage, they were squashed, going all group games without scoring, or even looking like scoring a goal. This time around, they got their goal, but a flailing defence has led to them being knocked out early. After a disappointing two performances in the World Cup, many are beginning to question whether their inclusion in this soccer biggest international competition was due to luck. Is that the case, or is it an indication that the tides are turning in the CONCACAF federation?
Fans and pundits alike will have differing opinions about the Canadian men’s national team, however, their build up to the World Cup is not up for debate. “Les Rouges” showed dominance in the CONCACAF federation, and finished top of the table in the qualifying rounds.
How did Canada get to the World Cup?
Canada’s never really been a nation known for soccer. Hockey? Absolutely, the CFL? No doubt, it’s one of the most Canadian things there is. But soccer, however, has not been a sport that Canadians have managed to display much skill within. This is best illuminated by the fact that the nation has only reached the World Cup one time before now, back in 1986.
Team Canada of recent years, however, is in no ways a remnant of days past. In the build up to the World Cup, Canada’s national team managed to top the CONCACAF qualifying table, with a record of 8 wins, two losses, and two draws from 14 matches. The only other nation to match this record was Mexico, which was the staunch favourite to top the CONCACAF qualifiers according to the odds found on betting sites available in Canada.
Canada managed to finish above Mexico, as they had a wider a goal difference than their competitors from further south. The US, managed to fill the final position, and Costa Rica, who had to take a longer route, rounds up the nations that will be representing CONCACAF at the World Cup.
Can Canada scrape back dignity against Morocco?
Canada has been in for a very demanding few games at the World Cup so far. Canada have faced Belgium and Croatia, two of the most established football teams in the world. Despite their best efforts, they have succumbed to both, losing 1-0 to Belgium in a game many felt they should have won, and having been beaten convincingly by a strong Croatian team. The Moroccans are the final test for Les Rouges, and while it’s too little too late, there is an opportunity for the Canadians to save face.
The Moroccans have drawn with Croatia, and beaten Belgium, making it look a lot like the odds are stacked against Canada, however, if there’s anything the World Cup has taught everyone, it is that absolutely anything can happen. Saudi Arabia has has proven that by beating an almighty Argentinian squad that has the likes of Messi, Di Maria, and Martinez to select from.
While the going will be tough for the Canadians, it certainly is not impossible for us to see them venture to the Round of 16, or even beyond.
What does the future hold?
It appears that Canada’s performances on the world stage, along with the performances of some of their very best stars in some of Europe’s top leagues, is beginning to be noticed. Canada, along with the United States, and Mexico, will join forces to host the 2026 World Cup, across 16 cities in North America.
Due to this, Canada’s place might be solidified in the upcoming World Cup. While that may be set, if the current team’s performances are anything to go by, their place in the World Cup would be solidified regardless of whether they were co-hosting the competition. Canadian soccer is on the rise, and there are currently many signs of this.
Alphonso Davies has probably been the breakout Canadian star, playing a significant role in Bayern Munich’s recent success, and Canada’s performances at the World Cup. Jonathan David, and Cyle Larin offer more evidence that football in Canada is capable of developing not just one star every once in a while, but a handful.
Canadian football is also set to benefit heavily from Toronto FC’s recent signings of Lorenzo Insigne, and Federico Bernadeschi. While these two players are perhaps not in their heyday, they do have plenty of soccer left in them, and can have an immensely positive impact on the Canadian players they will be sharing the pitch with.
Canada’s inclusion in this World Cup cannot be simply dubbed lucky. It was the product of hard work, good development systems, and good soccer acumen. If this group of Canadian players has proven anything, it’s that “Les Rouges” is just getting started, and for real this time.
Photo by Pixabay – pexels.com