The massive 4-0 win at BMO field on Sunday evening saw Canada qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. That accomplishment alone is something to celebrate, but let’s take a closer look at how good this squad has actually been in these 2022 qualifying stages.
When it comes to the two paths that led to Canada qualifying for the World Cup, the roads were very different. The rules and ways to qualify have changed drastically from 1986 to 2022, but both were monumental for Canada. The reason I believe that 2022 was more impressive, is for 2 reasons, the opposition we faced this time around, and the amount of games played.
In 1986, the CONCACAF qualification process had 9 teams split in 3 groups. The winner of those 3 groups, went to a final 3 team group, where the winners there qualified. Confused? That’s ok.
Canada had Haiti and Guatemala in the first stage, and then Honduras and Costa Rica in the final group. There are some very strong opponents in there for sure, but what might get overlooked is the fact that Mexico was the host country in 1986 and were therefore excluded from qualifications. The other main point here is that in total, there were only 8 games played before Canada had qualified…
Let’s jump back to the present year, where Canada not only had to deal with the likes of Mexico and a now much stronger USA side, they had to do it over an 14 game period. I understand the argument that yes there are more teams that qualify in 2022 than 1986, but the way this Canada squad played, that wouldn’t of mattered. At the start of this group, Canada would’ve thought qualifying was very much a possibility, but I can’t picture too many people arguing that Canada was going to finish at the top of the table!
But maybe that shouldn’t of been such a surprise? Look at the Canadian talent across the world of soccer. Alphonso Davies, who is arguably Canada’s best player (and missed quite a bit of the qualifying matches) is playing for Bayern Munich, one of the best clubs in the world. Jonathan David is applying his trade in France with Ligue 1 club Lille. Tajon Buchanan just secured a move to Club Brugge and Stephan Eustaquio now plays for FC Porto.
These are all guys who are leading their country to their first world cup in 36 years, and the most impressive part is that the oldest one of those 4 previously mentioned is 25 years old. This will be the core for team Canada for the next 2 world cups as well! It’s also a great way for guys like Milan Borjan and Atiba Hutchinson (most capped male player in Canada history) a chance a world cup at least once in their career.
The future is bright for Canada, but the focus must remain in the present as the task only get harder from here. Canada will look to secure their first World Cup point AND their first World Cup goal as in 1986 Canada drew a very tough group and weren’t able to manage a single point or goal.
All eyes now shift to April 1st to see who Canada will be competing with come the start of the world cup in November.
And here is the latest episode of the Chtib and Zhang podcast where the boys discuss the NHL Trade deadline!