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Canada will be back at the World Cup after 36 years

By Maggie Hsu, April 17 2022—

Since the inception of the national program, the Canadian men’s national soccer team has only qualified for the FIFA World Cup twice. The first time was in 1986 when they came off of an impressive showing in the 1984 Summer Olympics before entering the 1985 CONCACAF tournament to begin their run for the 1986 World Cup. The second time is now.

Canada’s first stint on the FIFA stage ended with three losses, no wins and no goals scored. However, it was still considered a strong showing for the team as this was the turning point for the Canadian soccer program and went on to inspire subsequent generations of Canadians to play.

Over the past 36 years, Canadian soccer has made great steps with many players playing overseas as well as in  Major League Soccer (MLS) which has three Canadian franchises. In addition to the MLS teams in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, the Canadian Premier League (CPL) was established in 2017 and has teams in eight cities with plans to expand in the future. 

All of these developments have shown that Canada’s future in soccer is bright. The professional leagues provide opportunities for young athletes to play on a bigger stage and representation on the global stage and inspire them to push themselves towards their highest potential. These developments helped in North America’s successful bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in which Canada, the United States and Mexico will combine to host the next edition of the tournament

As a host country in the upcoming tournament, Canada is guaranteed a host by to play in the tournament. One could argue that if they are guaranteed to play in four years, why are they trying so hard to qualify for this year? As Canada isn’t considered a mainstay for the World Cup like soccer giants Brazil, Germany and Italy, the team wanted to prove they belonged with the world’s best teams by qualifying for Qatar all on their own. Qualifying for this year’s tournament is also a great asset to soccer in Canada as a place in the World Cup comes with a hefty cheque of $12 million that can be used to further build our programs and benefit many players in the long run.

As a nation, we were electrified by Canada Soccer whenever they played over the past few months. There was something different about how Canada felt about soccer after witnessing the women’s team win the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The country suddenly cared more about soccer than it ever had and with a young and dynamic men’s team to watch, it was another sport to unite the country. Plus, it’s helpful to have a star player like Alphonso Davies be an ambassador for the sport. TSN has recently named him as the most marketable Canadian athlete on a global scale surpassing the likes of Tristan Thompson, Sidney Crosby and Genie Bouchard. 

Unfortunately, since many Canadians have links to other countries, often when players feel they have reached their full potential in the Canadian program, they choose to play for other countries. Davies had all of the makings of following this classic timeline. When his talent was beginning to be recognized globally, it seemed to be only a matter of time before he would choose to represent another country. So it was a bit of a shock when the, arguably, most talented Canadian soccer player chose to play for Canada without any hesitation

And then, as the saying goes, the pieces all fell into place — players wanting to play with Davies decided to stay with Canada Soccer, they practiced and built a team. Now we’re all caught up and the most pressing question is looming over any Canadian soccer fan, new and old: What are the chances of Canada winning the World Cup?

On April 1, the draw results for the World Cup groups were revealed. Canada is sitting in a tough Group F as they are slated to play against Belgium, Morocco and Croatia to advance into the group of 16. Belgium is currently ranked second on the FIFA world rankings, Morocco has not lost a single game in their qualifying matches in the Confederation of African Football (CAF), and Croatia proved in the 2018 World Cup that they are a finals contender as they faced off against the eventual Champions, France, in the last match of the tournament. 

Canada’s chances may not seem great however, soccer is notorious for upsets and anything can happen.

The 2022 World Cup is set to open on Nov. 21 in Qatar and will conclude on Dec 18. Canada’s first match will kick off against Belgium at 12 p.m. MST on Nov. 23. Let’s be sure to cheer on Team Canada as they make their run towards the top of the soccer world. 

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