The Canadian men’s soccer team breezed through World Cup qualification to such a degree that it has resulted in this astonishing achievement going somewhat unnoticed. At least, this Canadian brand of swashbuckling attacking made it look like soccer was the nation’s favorite pastime and a sport that the country has been dominating for years. The reality, however, is that Canada have been the whipping boys of world soccer for longer than anyone in the Great White North cares to remember.
As initially touched on, you would be hard-pressed to believe it after the latest news updates showed that John Herdman’s players had successfully finished at the top of the CONCACAF standings, beating the likes of established soccer nations such as Mexico and age-old rivals the USA in the process. Indeed, few could have predicted just how seamless this World Cup qualifying campaign would turn out to be given that in 36 years of trying, the country had been previously been unsuccessful in reaching soccer’s greatest showpiece. Even then, that appearance at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico was the only time that the Canadians have ever managed to qualify for a World Cup which does go to show just how little success the country has had.
The winds of change, however, are beginning to blow and after such a dominant, and frankly surprising run to the finals in Qatar, there are questions to be asked about what fans can expect and how far this team can go when the competition starts in Doha?
Group of Death?
To start with, it’s worth noting that the draw for the 2022 World Cup groups wasn’t overly kind to Canada after the nation was pitted against Belgium, Croatia, and Morocco in Group F. Now, for all the talk about Group E which consists of Germany, Spain, Costa Rica, and Japan being the so-called ‘Group of Death’, you can easily make a case for Group F being the most fiercely contested at the World Cup given that Canada will line up with with one of the most talented squads in the desert.
Of course, it’s important to temper expectations when you consider that purely qualifying for the World Cup is an accomplishment in itself for Canada but at the same time, you could say that the door is more than ajar open for the team to get to the round of 16 owing to the individual star power the nation will be able to call upon.
Leading the line will be Jonathan David who is the subject of intense transfer speculation linking the center-forward to Europe’s biggest clubs. It is a saga that would perhaps be better suited to the most recent entertainment updates rather than sports pages given how many suitors are vying to woo David. As things stand, the 22-year-old plies his trade in France with Lille in Ligue 1 and has scored 32 goals in 96 appearances as of the end of June 2022. This goal-scoring return has made him one of the world’s most sought-after players but irrespective of what happens in the future for David, Canada can rely on their talisman to score the goals needed to help them make a miraculous escape out of Group F.
Another significant point to consider when assessing the likelihood of Canada sealing a berth in the round of 16 is David’s scoring ratio whilst on international duty, with the forward notching up 20 goals in just 30 starts. Put another way, David has scored 66 percent of the time that he has played for Canada which makes him one of the most prolific strikers in world football. For those eager to know more about David and his style of play, parallels can undoubtedly be drawn with Colombian James Rodriguez who, revealingly, won the 2014 FIFA World Cup Golden Boot.
The pass 🔥 The finish ✨
Jonathan David doubles Canada’s lead. 🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/H3d18acyC0
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) January 28, 2022
In addition to David’s brilliance, the supporting cast around the striker should also keep Canadians awake at night with excitement given that Bayern Munich ace Alphonso Davies will line up at left-back. More capable reinforcement in Junior Hoilett, Cyle Larin, Jonathan Osorio, and Tajon Buchanan will also ensure that Les Rouges have one of the most dynamic sides in Qatar.
Can these Canadian stars dazzle in the desert?
With this being the case, how far could this group of players take a nation that has never before dared to dream about glory at an Adidas World Cup?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the online betting odds, as of the 27th of June, suggest that winning the showpiece is all but impossible with Canada at a price of 250/1 but importantly, that shouldn’t deter Canadians from dreaming. Indeed, Canada don’t have to go all the way for this country to enjoy a run that will provide lifelong memories and even progression from Group F will guarantee that interest in the sport, which is currently bankrolled by core sponsor Oat Canada, will reach heights few ever imagined possible.
Indeed, from Nova Scotia to Ontario and Quebec, the whole of Canada will come to a standstill if this team is able to find safe passage out of a difficult group.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 14, 2021
Above all though and to put any possible permutations in Qatar aside, fans can expect a team that will run themselves into the ground for their country in a bid to make history. It may prove to be enough and of course, it may also prove in vain, but this Canadian team is set to give their best at the 2022 World Cup.