VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Canadian men’s soccer team is on to the final World Cup qualifying round for the first time since the lead-up to France ’98.
Canada coach John Herdman was emotional after the team defeated Haiti 3-0 (4-0 in aggregate) to advance.
“We’ll enjoy this moment together as a team and as a country. We’re going to the Octagon. We’ve got a future, that’s the first thing. We’re an organization that has so much potential and we’re right on the cusp of it now. Our women’s team have gone to that next level, and our men’s team are on our way there. What an exciting time to be a Canadian football fan,” he said.
“It’s just a proud moment for us all,” said Herdman, who has overseen a remarkable turnaround in the men’s program since taking charge in January 2018. “We’ll enjoy the moment. But at the same time we’ve just got to stay humble now, because tomorrow the focus shifts on to the big mountain. And that big mountain is one of the most exciting mountains I think this whole country has got to try and climb together.
“And that’s where I’m inviting all of you guys to come on that mountain climb with us. Because it’s happening. We did it.”
One step closer to the World Cup. ????@CanadaSoccerEN advances to the final round of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup after defeating Haiti! ????????????#CANMNT | #WCQ2022 pic.twitter.com/riNaS9nOEj
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 16, 2021
The road will not get any easier for Team Canada as it heads to “The Octagon” – the final eight teams in North and Central America and the Caribbean. The 70th-ranked Canadians will have stiff competition, including Mexico, the U.S., and Jamaica.
The final eight will play each other September through March. The top three finishers will book their ticket to Qatar 2022. The fourth-place team will take part in an intercontinental playoff to see who joins them.
Canada will open in September at home to Honduras before traveling to the U.S., then will return home to host El Salvador. The hope is that COVID-related travel restrictions will be eased by then, allowing Canada to finally play an actual home game.
If Canada can play well enough to finish in the first half of this group, we may see the Canadians compete for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.