Canadian men’s soccer team are on pace to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar
Let’s keep it a buck — when you think of sports that Canada excels at, soccer doesn’t usually come to mind. Over the years, the men’s national soccer team has rostered lineups with more than enough talent to succeed at the international level, but there always seemed to be an immovable, invisible hurdle between Canada and the World Cup.
It’s been 35 years since Canada last qualified for soccer’s most prestigious tournament, but the Canadian drought may soon be coming to an end.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar won’t be taking place until November of next year, but countries around the world are currently competing in continental World Cup qualifiers. Canada takes part in the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) qualifiers, where they currently occupy third place in the final qualifying round behind Mexico and the U.S.
Though only six of the 14 matches in the Octagonal have been played thus far, Canada have put themselves in a comfortable position with draws against Mexico and Jamaica already under their belt. The top three teams automatically qualify for the 2022 World Cup, with the fourth seed having to participate in an intercontinental playoff to book their tickets to Qatar.
With Canada’s latest comeback victory against Panama at BMO Field on Oct. 13, and having gone unbeaten in October, the team broke into the FIFA top 50 world rankings for the first time since 1997. Canada started the year as the No. 72 ranked team, and have steadily climbed to where they currently stand at No. 48.
The roadmap ahead doesn’t necessarily get easier for Canada as they prepare to face Costa Rica and Mexico in November, and the team is far from perfect. Most notably, they’ve made a bad habit of starting games off slow and falling behind early, a worrying trend that has fortunately translated into dramatic and successful comebacks so far.
But the hype is real — just ask Canadian rapper Drake. The emergence of young players Jonathan David and Alphonso Davies — the latter of which has arguably cemented his case as the best player in the CONCACAF — mixed with Canada’s resilience and mental fortitude they’ve displayed this year all make for an incredibly promising team that’s likely to make more noise in the coming weeks.
Historically, Canada has wilted under the bright lights when it comes to soccer, but don’t be surprised if this team continues to headline the nation’s sports sections as they attempt to etch their names in Canadian soccer lore.