Qatar 2022 will be the first time in 30 years that Canada has qualified for the final stages of a World Cup. One thing is certain, they are not just going along to make up the numbers. Canada has a realistic chance of making it through to the knockout stages, and from there, anything is possible. Here’s why.
This is a very different team to the unit that arrived in Mexico in 1986. The Canadian roster has genuine depth, with some talented names vying to make the final squad. Among the shoe-ins we see Alphonso Davies of Bayern Munich and Club Brugge’s Tajon Buchanan, on whom there will be plenty of expectation. Up front, Jonathan David has proved his world class credentials at Lille, but watch out for Lucas Cavallini. The Vancouver Whitecaps striker has the potential to change games single handedly and if Canada do succeed in pulling off a surprise or two, he’s likely to be in the thick of the action.
A friendly group
Group F – at first glance, it doesn’t look like the easiest of draws. Belgium topped the FIFA rankings for the past couple of years, while Croatia was a finalist last time out. Morocco is also a team that should not be underestimated, having made it as far as the quarter finals in last year’s AFCON. Unsurprisingly, the bookies favour Belgium and Croatia to qualify for the knockout stages. However, both sides rely on key players who are in the twilight of their careers and Croatia in particular is not the same team as it was four years ago, and will have a weight of expectation on its shoulders. Sites specializing in sports betting say odds of +300 or a 1 in 3 shot to make the knockout stages, which is surely worth a couple of dollars.
On a winning run
Canada’s progress through the World Cup qualifiers was little short of stunning. Spoilt only by a final round loss to Panama, they nevertheless finished top of their qualifying group, with November’s 2-1 win over Mexico representing an important line in the sand. True, the subsequent strike action does not represent the best preparation for the most important tournament of their generation, but if the team’s Nations League performance against Curacao is anything to go by, they are not allowing off-field disputes to affect their cohesion out in the middle.
An opportunity to make history
This is the 15th time Canada has sought to play at the world cup, and only the second time the nation has successfully made it through to the final stages. The only previous occasion was in 1986, when Canada was frankly blown away in all three group games and did not even manage a consolation goal, losing 2-0, 1-0 and 2,0 to the Soviet Union, France and Hungary respeectively. Qatar 2022 represents an opportunity to make history and to establish Canada as a genuine force to reckoned with on the world stage.
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