The Canadian Men’s National Soccer Team and FIFA 2022
The nation celebrated when the Canadian men’s soccer team booked its ticket to the 2022 FIFA championship after a “leave no doubt” 4 to 0 win over the Jamaican Reggae Boyz at a snow-covered BMO Field in Toronto in March 2022. We collectively exhaled and dared to dream of making it out of the group stage or even lifting a trophy. Although coming after a 36-year absence from soccer’s premier international event, with stars like the Liberian-Canadian Alphonso Davies and the Haitian-Canadian Jonathan David, hopes were high for the team’s “dark horse” performance in Qatar. Yes friends, not since 1986 has the Canadian Men’s team graced the world stage in this tournament. (Our women’s team – the current 2020 Olympic champions – have been doing so consistently since 1995.) That about half of the twenty-six-player roster is composed of Canadian men of African descent also tells us that our national sport infrastructures of scouting and player development (at least in soccer) are finally looking for talent from all racial backgrounds! This was certainly not the case in years past.
Although they lost the first match 1 to 0 against a Belgium side that was ranked #2 in the world, had the score not been broadcast throughout the game, anyone may have guessed that the Canadians had triumphed. Indeed, much of the first half belonged to Canada, although sadly, scoring opportunities were not converted into goals. Another central factor of our premature exit was our stacked group, F, which also included Croatia and Morocco who finished the tournament in third and fourth place respectively!
While we are surely disappointed that our team did not make it beyond the initial stage of the tournament, they certainly have the drive, talent, discipline, and leadership (in coach John Herdman) for a much better showing when North America hosts the event in 2026. Plus, more than a few Canucks will be in attendance at BMO Field (at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver, and other stadiums across the USA, and Mexico) to cheer them on with abandon!