World Football’s Dark Horses?

Canada’s footballers have only ever graced the World Cup on one occasion. That was back in 1986 in Mexico when they failed to score or register a point. They by no means disgraced themselves however, narrowly losing 1-0 to France in their opening game before suffering 2-0 defeats against both Hungary and Soviet Union.

Forty years on come 2026, Canada will jointly host the first 48-nation World Cup but will have their eyes set on qualifying sooner than that. Currently ranked 73rd in the world, The Canucks will be hoping that their young crop of emerging talent presently plying their trade in Europe can help them qualify for Qatar 2022. The likes of Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and Gent goal machine Jonathan David are courting plenty of admirers across the pond, the latter having buried 30 goals in only 60 appearances in the Belgian top tier. Liverpool’s Liam Millar is another forward player to keep an eye on. Experienced pros such as former Premier League stars Scott Arfield, David Edgar and Junior Hoilet help compliment the youth coming through.

As for the Canadian coach, he isn’t Canadian at all, in fact he’s from Durham. John Herdman spent seven years in charge of Canada’s Women’s football team, achieving great success and has been bossing the men since 2018. Under Herdman the Canadian team don’t do draws. They’ve won eleven and lost three of his fourteen matches in charge. A 2019 Gold Cup quarter-final defeat against Haiti was a major blip however.

At best four teams from CONCACAF will qualify for Qatar 2022 via a rather convoluted qualification process. As such Canada’s chances of gracing the world stage for the first time in four decades are far from a given but the seeds of their greatest hope in quite some time have been planted. Should 2022 come to soon for Canada’s new generation of footballers then 2026 on home turf could be a more realistic target. CONCACAF will be granted six slots at the enlarged tournament but it remains unclear whether co-host trio Canada, USA and Mexico will be granted automatic places. It does seem a bit unfair that the 32 Caribbean nations should have to battle it out for only three vacancies but it certainly doesn’t help a tournament when its hosts are absent. With its own national team not involved and in a country where football isn’t the number one sport, it’s hard to see the Canadian public taking to the World Cup in droves.

Should Canada have to fight their way to their own tournament then by 2026 Davies, David and the rest may have paved the way for a few more Canadians to have graced Europe’s big leagues and help guide their country to their first World Cup in forty years.

Published by Silly Point Cricket/Left Back Footy

Retired village cricketer/Retired Sunday league footballer/Active blogger.

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