Caleb Pereira ’23 and Nicholas Mikowaz’ 25
Sorts Editor and contributor
Canada has only ever qualified for one World Cup, but a second appearance looks to be on the horizon. Amidst a golden generation of players like LOSC (Lille Olympique Sporting Club) striker Jonathan David, and Bayern Munich left-back Alphonso Davies, Canada has become one of the strongest teams in North American soccer.
Canada’s sole World Cup appearance came at the 1986 tournament in Mexico. There, Canada finished at the bottom of their group, losing to the U.S.S.R., France, and Hungary, while failing to score a single goal. Despite this poor performance, Canada’s participation in the World Cup sparked interest in soccer across the nation. This has led to a growth in quality for Canadian soccer since 1986, culminating now, on the cusp of qualifying for next year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
After topping their qualifying group in round one and defeating Haiti in the second round, Canada now sits in the final round of the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football) World Cup Qualifier. This third round sees Canada enter an eight-team group, featuring multiple countries with World Cup experience like the United States and Mexico. In the group, the top three teams gain automatic qualification to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The fourth-placed team will play the winner of the Oceania Football Confederation’s qualifiers in June 2022 for a spot in the World Cup.
Canada has had some significant performances up until now in this qualifying stage. Most notably, their draw against Mexico in Mexico City at the Estadio Azteca—one of the most difficult stadiums to play at in North America. For Canada to qualify, they will need to continue to gain points against these difficult oppositions. This was apparent for Canada heading into their home match against Mexico in Edmonton on November 16.
The stakes were high for Canada and Mexico leading up to this match because of the U.S.A. drawing against Jamaica. As a result, a win would advance either team to first place in the group.
Due to the young, in-form, and fast-paced counter-attacking style of the Canadians, they were favoured to win. The match took place in -11°C weather, as Commonwealth Stadium was covered in a blanket of snow. This game earned the stadium the term ‘Ice Teca.’
For the first 55 minutes, Canada appeared to have better odds. There were two goals from Larin, who thereby became Canada’s joint all-time leading scorer. His first goal was in the 47 minute and the second off a set piece in the 52. After Canada gained the lead, Mexico began to generate chances. Eventually, a powerful header from Atletico Madrid 31-year-old, Héctor Herrera, gave Mexico their first goal. Yet even after several more Mexican chances, Canada held strong. This secured Canada their first win against Mexico in over 20 years.
Currently, Canada sits first in their group with a one-point lead over the U.S.A. With six games remaining between now and March 2022, Canada will have to continue their current run of form in order to qualify for their second ever FIFA World Cup appearance.
Photo Credit: The Edmonton Journal