The frustrating history of the World Cup for Canada before Qatar — Toronto Sun


Before qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Canada’s men’s national team had only participated in the tournament once

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The history of Canada’s men’s national soccer team at the FIFA World Cup is neither long nor distinguished.

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Prior to qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Canada’s men’s national team had only participated in the tournament once.

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Canada was one of 24 teams to participate in the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico and were eliminated in the first round, losing all three of their group matches and scoring no goals.

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After that, it was a frustrating process for Canada to get back to the World Cup. The team was nowhere near qualifying until head coach John Herdman led arguably the most talented Canadian men’s national team to Qatar.

Here’s a look at Canada’s history at the World Cup:

Soccer in Canada dates back to the late 1800s when the Dominion Football Association and the Western Football Association ruled the game in the country, before the formation of the Canadian Soccer Association, now known as Canada Soccer.

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Canada’s first official international match was in 1924 against Australia, but 20 years earlier a team from Galt, Ontario represented the country at the 1904 Olympics, winning gold.

Canada failed to qualify for the first five editions of the FIFA World Cup and failed to qualify for the 1958 tournament in Sweden.

It wasn’t until 1970 that Canada began to regularly participate in World Cup qualifiers.

Canada made it to the final round of Concacaf qualifying for the 1978 tournament in Argentina, but finished fourth in the six-team group, where Mexico were the only team to qualify from outside the region.

Four years later, with two spots available for the region at the 1982 tournament in Spain, Canada could not defeat Cuba in their final qualifying game and narrowly missed out on Honduras and El Salvador.

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In 1986, with Mexico qualifying as hosts, there was only one berth for the region, which had been determined at the Concacaf Championships the previous year.

Canada edged out Guatemala and Haiti in the first group stage to secure a spot in the final three-team group with Honduras and Costa Rica.

Canada tied Costa Rica 1-1 at Varsity Stadium in Canada and held them scoreless in the second leg in San Jose, Costa Rica. They beat Honduras 1-0 on the road, setting up a win-win rematch at King George V Park in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Teddy Pakos and Igor Vrablic then scored in the 2-1 win in front of more than 13,000 spectators on a cold, rainy day in September to book a place at the World Cup tournament in Mexico.

Canada was placed in a group with defending European champions France, the Soviet Union and Hungary.

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Canada opened the tournament against France, led by legendary captain Michel Platini.

Canada head coach Tony Waiters rolled the dice and started 20-year-old goalkeeper Paul Dolan, who frustrated the French for almost 80 minutes.

If French striker Jean-Pierre Papin had tied his shoes that day, things could have been very different for Canada. Papin, however, missed a number of excellent chances before finally beating Dolan with a header in the 79th minute for the 1-0 victory.

Five days later, Canada played Hungary, who were beaten 6-0 in their opening match by the Soviet Union.

The Hungarians were not the team of the mid-50s, which reached the World Cup final in 1954 with Ferenc Puskas and Sandor Kocsis, but they were still too strong for Canada to win 2-0 .

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This time, Tino Lettieri got the start in net for Canada, which saw a player sent off late in the game when substitute Mike Sweeney picked up two yellow cards in the space of 33 minutes.

Canada finished the tournament against the Soviet Union, who tied France 1-1 in their previous match.

Before the tournament, French head coach Henri Michel was asked his opinion on facing Canada and the Soviet Union in the group stage and he joked: « If we played hockey, I would be very worried.

Having already been knocked out of the second round, Canada entered the game against the Soviet Union looking to score a goal. Dale Mitchell came the closest but was unable to convert on a free kick.

The Soviets scored twice in the second half to win the match 2-0 and finish top of the group. Canada would return home satisfied with their performance and hoped to build on it in future tournaments. Little did they know they wouldn’t qualify for another World Cup for 36 years.

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Canada’s qualification process for the 1990 World Cup in Italy proved short. Canada lost a two-game home-and-away series to Guatemala and were eliminated from the competition. Canada lost the first match 1-0 in Guatemala, then won the second 3-2 at Swangard Stadium in Vancouver, but were eliminated on goal difference. It was the shortest World Cup qualifying campaign in Canadian history.

Four years later, Canada would have one of its longest games, as they played 14 games before finally being eliminated in a home-and-away series against Australia in a continental playoff.

Canada won 2-1 at home in front of 27,000 fans at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, then lost 2-1 in Sydney, requiring a penalty shootout.

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Canada lost on penalties and Australia qualified to face Diego Maradona and Argentina in further continental playoffs, which they lost.

For the 1998 World Cup in France, Canada advanced to the final round of Concacaf qualifying but finished last in the six-team group, largely beaten by Mexico, USA and El Salvador.

It turned out to be the last time Canada made it to the final qualifying stage, known as the Hex, until they were able to advance to the final stage. to eight teams last year for Qatar.

Canada was unable to qualify for the final round of Concacaf qualifying for the 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018 tournaments.


On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest

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