Canada Soccer Team is set to start its World Cup Qualifying games next March. Fans want to know: Can Canada qualify for the 2022 World Cup?
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Canada has not qualified for a FIFA World Cup since 1986.
However, with some young talent on the roster and a favourable draw to start qualifiers, Canada's chances of making it back to the tournament have never looked so good.
Canada Wants One of CONCACAF's Spots for the 2022 World Cup
Qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup are pushed back across the globe. Only Qatar – the host nation – has a spot locked up in the 2022 tournament. The FIFA committee voted against expanding the World Cup from 32 countries to 48 – opting for expansion in 2026 when Canada is one of the hosts.
Only three nations from the CONCACAF are guaranteed a spot in the tournament, with a fourth CONCACAF team possible, if they win the final play-in tournament.
The Canadian Men's National team looks as good as it ever has. But for a nation with only one World Cup appearance in 1986 (0-0-3 record, 0 goals for, 5 goals against), the bar for what is good is low. Still, there is a path for Canada making their second FIFA World Cup appearance, and Canada World Cup qualify odds are the best they have been in decades.
The Path to the 2022 World Cup Tournament
Canada plays Aruba, Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Suriname in the first round of the qualifiers.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has affected many things, including the start of World Cup qualifiers and soccer odds for the Canadian Men's Soccer Team. The original start of Canada's World Cup qualifying schedule – October and November – has been pushed back. Now World Cup qualifying 2022 for Canada starts in March 2021. The new end date of the qualification round has not yet been announced.
Canada opens the first round of qualifiers in CONCACAF Group B. Despite ranking 73rd in the World, Canada is the top seed in Group B. They face Suriname, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, and Aruba. Suriname is their highest-ranked opponent at 141st in the World (as of October 2020).
Canada's chances of making out of Group B are high. Canada is undefeated against Suriname (1-0-0) and Bermuda (5-4-0). They have never played the Cayman or Bermuda. However, rank 193rd and 195th in the World.
Canada needs to win their group in the first stage to advance any further in the tournament.
If Canada advances further than the first stage, they will play a two-legged home-and-away series against another group winner. Canada is the second-highest ranked team in the first round of qualifiers. The only team ranked higher is El Salvador. Canada has success against El Salvador, owning a record of 8-4-5 against their CONCACAF rival.
Surprisingly, Canada owns a reasonable record against every CONCACAF, excluding four of the five nations already qualified for the final round (Canada is a combined 25-33-52 against Honduras, the United States, Costa Rica, and Mexico). Panama is the nation, excluding the last four mentioned that Canada has the worst record against at 3-6-1. However, Panama is playing in the qualifiers. The other nation qualified for the finals is Jamaica, which Canada is 9-6-6 against.
If they can make it to the final round, which is quite possible, things will get challenging for Canada. Eight nations make the final stage, but only the top three automatically qualify for the 2022 World Cup. The fourth-placed team qualifies for the inter-confederation playoffs.
If Canada is going to make the final stage and finish in the top three, or at least fourth, they need their young star – Alphonso Davies – to produce.
The Alphonso Davies Factor
Alphonso Davies is the biggest name to ever come out of Canada. The star started his soccer career with the Vancouver Whitecaps but quickly caught the attention of Germany's top club Bayern Munich. After just 19, Davies helped Bayern Munich win the 2020 UEFA Champions League.
He also has made a splash for Canada on the international stage. Davies made his debut for the Men's National Team at only 16 and made his impact felt quickly. At the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Davies scored two goals in Canada's first game – making him the youngest Canadian to score two goals.
While Canada only advanced to the quarter-finals at the tournament, Davies tied for the tournament lead in goals with three and won the Golden Boot Award and the Young Player Award.
Arguably, his biggest moment came in 2019 during the Group Stage of the CONCACAF Nations League. Davies scored the game-winning goal against the United States in Toronto. Canada finished second in their group to the United States, qualifying for the 2021 Gold Cup but failing to advance to the inaugural Nations League Finals.
Even if Canada did not advance, Davies' performance, along with Junior Hoilett (who netted three goals), should have Canadians excited.
Will Canada Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup?
With Davies and Hoilett, Canada has its best chance in years of making the FIFA Soccer World Cup. Costa Rica (46th ranked in the World) and Honduras (62nd in the World) are well off their ranking peaks from the last decade (16 and 42, respectively). Canada also has modest success against the United States during the previous eight years, going 1-2-2. The win against the US is their first since 1985.
Overall, this Canadian team is on the rise. While winning the World Cup is a stretch, the team they have, and the way the qualifications are set up now (after changes due to Covid-19), the Canadian Men's Team has a good chance of making the next World Cup.
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