Canadian men are still chasing soccer history in their last outing at the 2022 World Cup

With one game to go, Canada is still chasing history at the World Cup. But a motivated Morocco opposes a first-ever positive result in the men’s football showcase on Thursday.

For coach John Herdman, the 41st-ranked Canadians ticked a box in a ‘fearless’ performance in their opener of the tournament, pushing number 2 Belgium to the limit in a 1-0 loss . And Alphonso Davies’ goal 68 seconds into the game against 12th-placed Croatia ended Canada’s tournament drought, albeit in what turned out to be a 4-1 loss.

READ MORE: After making history, Canadian soccer star Alphonso Davies opens up to World Cup

Click to play video: “World Cup inspires youth soccer in Edmonton”

An inspiring youth soccer world cup in Edmonton

Many other goals remain in what will be Canada’s last World Cup appearance until 2026, when Canada co-hosts an expanded 48-team tournament.

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Herdman listed them on Wednesday: first team to keep a clean sheet, first to get a result, first to get a win.

« We missed the first team to progress from a World Cup group stage, but we haven’t been here for 36 years, » Herdman said in the pre-match press conference. “You play Belgium, Croatia. The first time you’ve played against the best teams in over a decade and it’s on the world stage to come out of a group stage.

« We believe these goals are still achievable. »

Canada striker Alphonso Davies, left, warms up with his teammates during World Cup training in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, November 29, 2022.


On Tuesday, Herdman showed players and staff a homecoming fan video celebrating Davies’ historic goal on Sunday as the 22-year-old from Edmonton joined Helen Stoumbos in the Canada Soccer record books. Stoumbos scored Canada’s first goal at the Women’s World Cup in the 87th minute of a 3-2 loss to England in June 1995.

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For the Canadian coach, Davies’ goal is a memorable and inspiring moment.

« They could see why we really came here, which was to give this moment to Canada, » Herdman said, referring to celebrations back home, of his players. “And be proud, be proud of moments like that. Because there is more to come.

Canada lost three in a row and returned home on its only other trip to the tournament, to Mexico in 1986.

« We’ve taken a big step here, » Herdman said, citing praise from Belgian assistant coach Thierry Henry after the opener.

Herdman said Henry, a former star striker who later coached MLS side Montreal, said the Belgians should have lost the game. The Canada coach also noted the sight of Croatian players celebrating beating Canada.

“That’s what we came to do (here), to try to compete with the best in the world. And I think we did our best to compete,” he said.

« We had great moments against Belgium and Croatia – footballing moments that our country can be proud of, » he added.

Morocco, ranked 22nd in the world, can extend their World Cup moment even further.

READ MORE: Montreal Moroccans thrilled with upcoming FIFA World Cup game

« Our players want to go down in history and they will give 110% to make the Moroccan people happy, » said Moroccan coach Walid Regragui through an interpreter.

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He knows that a draw at the 44,400-capacity Al Thumama Stadium will be enough for Morocco to finish second in Group F, as will a loss for Belgium to Croatia in the group’s other final match, while a win could see him finish atop the pool. .

« What we want is to be really masters of our destiny without having to calculate, to rely on the results of other teams, » said Regragui.

The Moroccans currently sit second in the group, behind Croatia on goal difference with both teams at 1-0-1. Belgium is third with three points at 1-1-0 while Canada has yet to score a point at 0-2-0.

After starting the tournament with a bang, albeit defeated, the Canadians look Thursday to reinforce the message that they belong on the world stage.

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Alphonso Davies’ former school in Edmonton hosts World Cup watch party

« Everyone wants to make history in this last game, » said Canadian midfielder Jonathan Osorio. “That’s what we focus on. We had a good performance in the first two games. But I think in football people always remember the last game you played the most and so we can’t wait to end this tournament with a bang.

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Regragui described the match as very difficult against « a team that has nothing to lose ».

Regragui, who answered questions in French, Arabic and English, was treated like a rock star at the previous Morocco press conference, signing t-shirts and posing for selfies.

But his feet are clearly on the ground

« It’s all right, » he said. « Let’s see if I will still be a good coach (Thursday). »

The Atlas Lions are looking to repeat their success of 1986 when they became the first African side to reach the knockout round – losing 1-0 to eventual runners-up West Germany after dominated a group that included England, Poland and Portugal.

Morocco failed to progress four years ago in Russia, losing to Iran and Portugal and equaling Spain.

Morocco opened their campaign here by drawing Croatia 0-0 before beating Belgium 2-0 for just their third win in 18 career games (3-9-6) at the World Cup.

Thursday marks Canada’s first-ever World Cup game against a non-European team.

READ MORE: Canada seek result against Morocco before exiting World Cup in Qatar

Herdman said he had an injury problem in midfield, without identifying the player. Stephen Eustaquio had to leave the match against Croatia at half-time due to a hamstring injury he was carrying.

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