Canada fans proud after ‘historic moment’ first goal despite tournament ousting

TORONTO – Excitement and jubilation after Canada scored its first-ever goal at the men’s World Cup gave way to dismay after Croatia came back with a string of goals to end hopes of the team to reach the round of 16 of the tournament.

Fans first screamed, jumped out of their seats and hugged each other at a sold-out party in downtown Toronto on Sunday as Alphonso Davies scored the historic goal.

The star winger and Bayern Munich player headed the ball home to give Canada an early 1-0 lead over Croatia shortly after the first minute of the do or die game. Davies’ teammates assaulted the 22-year-old from Edmonton with the corner flag and the whole country celebrated.

Nearly a hundred fans at the west end, most sporting Canada’s red and white colours, cheered again during goal replays, some shaking their heads in disbelief. But the momentum fell flat and fans watched quietly after Croatia hit back with four straight goals to win 4-1.

“It’s a little disappointing but I’m proud of the team despite everything. They just have to make the most of it, have fun with it,” said Canada fan and former soccer player Dominic Dike. « Everyone is proud, the whole country is proud. »

Dike called the team’s strong performance and Davies’ goal a « statement » that shows the world that Canada can compete in the sport.

“The whole match was a learning experience and it will only grow from here,” he said, noting that he will continue to cheer on Canada at this World Cup and beyond. .

Canada fan Tad Kitaba said he was delighted with the lone goal which he called historic, adding he couldn’t believe the enthusiasm and camaraderie in the room when it happened .

« They are young players and they don’t have experience on the world stage, » Kitaba said. « I’m not disappointed that we lost…they will go on and they will succeed next time. »

Matthew Dicker said Davies’ goal « instantly became a Canadian heritage moment. »

« He feels about as good as any other [Canadian] sporting moment,” he said, adding that the goal will be remembered as a pivotal occasion for soccer in Canada. He said the feeling in the room was unforgettable to see people celebrating soccer in Toronto on such a grand scale.

The Canadians entered the competition needing at least one point to keep their hopes of emerging from the group stage alive. Croatia also needed a win after leveling Morocco 0-0 in their opener.

The Canadians will return from Qatar after wrapping up the tournament on Thursday against Morocco, where they hope to come away on a winning note. The men failed to score or get a point in Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Belgium, failing to convert a host of chances despite their first appearance on the international football showcase in 36 years.

The national team was unable to score or get a point on their first trip to the tournament in 1986, exiting after three first-round defeats in Mexico.

Lauren Wharton, soccer player at Central Technical School in Toronto, said it was great to watch the game alongside passionate Canadian fans.

« Honestly, I wanted to cry, » Wharton said, reacting to the goal. « I’m happy that [Davies] I got it,… It was just that it was up to him to score.

It looked like Davies would end Canada’s World Cup drought in their opener against Belgium on Wednesday, but his penalty was saved by the Belgium keeper.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford praised Davies on Twitter for his goal, saying history had been made.

The crowd erupted in cheers at the Burgundy Lion pub in Montreal when Davies put Canada on the board, although the mood changed after Croatia returned.

Stathi Fokas said she was « devastated » by the loss but ultimately happy to share the « proud moment » with her friends.

« It really sucked because I really didn’t expect so many goals to be conceded, » said Adi Bikkani, another fan. « [Canada] did not control the game sufficiently.

Participant Nancy Cholette chose to focus on Davies’ very emotional goal.

« As far back as I can remember I follow football and just to think that we scored, and it was ‘Phonsie’ who scored, it was amazing, » she said. « I was crying »

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 27, 2022.

— With files from Marisela Amador in Montreal.


This story was produced with the financial assistance of Meta and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.


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