World Cup has been a humbling — but valuable — lesson for Canada’s men’s team & More Trending News


Chris Jones is in Qatar masking the men’s World Cup for CBC Sports.

John Herdman, the pinnacle coach of the Canadian men’s soccer team, has a totally different phrase for classes. He calls them learnings.

There has been no scarcity of them for his team, and for him, right here in Qatar. Despite a miraculous run to qualify for their first men’s World Cup since 1986, the Canadians found that there nonetheless exists an infinite hole between them and the very best groups on Earth. 

Entering Thursday’s recreation in opposition to Morocco, they have been already eradicated from rivalry for the spherical of 16. A slim loss to Belgium and a brutal loss to Croatia had seen to that.

The recreation nonetheless mattered. The males had secured their first World Cup objective when Alphonso Davies scored 68 seconds into the Croatian recreation. Now they have been after their first level, or, higher but, their first win.

They misplaced, 2-1. The Moroccans are going by way of from Group F. So, too, are the Croatians, after they eradicated the Belgians with a scoreless draw.

The Canadians will be part of them in going residence.

Al Thumama Stadium felt like Canada’s first true away floor in Qatar. Canadian supporters outnumbered the Belgians and had put up a high quality counter to the Croatians. They have been no match for the Moroccans, who travelled right here in big numbers and have been as loud as engines.

Canada’s goalkeeper Milan Borjan watches Moroccan Hakim Ziyech’s shot sail over his head for the primary objective of the sport. (Pavel Golovkin/The Associated Press)

Night to neglect

They have been additionally given extra cause to cheer. In the fourth minute, Steven Vitoria pushed a poor ball again to goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who needed to cost exterior his field to fulfill it. He nonetheless had time to launch a clearance. Instead, he scuffed it straight to the damaging toes of Hakim Ziyech, who lifted a straightforward lob into the empty internet.

“It’s tough, you know,” Borjan mentioned. “That just killed me.”

Not fairly 20 minutes later, the deep-lying Moroccans one way or the other scored one other. Youssef En-Nesyri outraced Vitoria and Kamal Miller for a lengthy ball and banged residence a shot at Borjan’s close to put up. The Canadian goalkeeper had labored so arduous to be right here. He was rewarded with a night time to neglect.

“Today wasn’t my day,” he mentioned, “and I’m sorry about that to all the Canadian fans and to my teammates. But this is the bad part of the football. This is the part of the goalkeeper.”

The Moroccans weren’t performed scoring — solely this time, they angled one into their very own internet, off Sam Adekugbe’s low cross late within the first half.

The personal objective wasn’t fairly, but it made issues attention-grabbing, and within the second half, a trio of Canadian substitutes — together with Jonathan David, who had been inexplicably benched — added some much-needed satisfaction to the proceedings. They have been a lot better.

In the 72nd minute, Atiba Hutchinson headed a nook off the crossbar that caromed straight down and caught a whisper of the objective line. A objective would have made for a great end to the 39-year-old captain’s worldwide profession.

“I thought it was in, man,” Hutchinson mentioned. “It just wasn’t meant to be, not only on that goal, but for us throughout the tournament … This time has gone by so fast. It’s gone by so fast.”

“Two inches from getting our first result,” Herdman mentioned. “That’s all it was.”

Unfortunately, need alone is not sufficient to compete on the heights of worldwide soccer. The Canadian males usually are not on the similar stage as their opponents. Their strikers do not end, their midfield is not deep sufficient, their tactical response is sluggish and disorganized, their set items are poor, and their admirable coronary heart does not masks their inexperience.

Canada ahead Jonathan David (20) battles Morocco ahead Abderrazak Hamdallah. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

‘Tough second’

The personal objective prevented Canada from matching the worst group-stage efficiency right here. That doubtful distinction belongs to host Qatar. Like the Canadians, the Qataris earned zero factors and allowed seven targets over the course of their three losses. Unlike the Canadians, the Qataris scored solely as soon as. Canada scored two, with Morocco’s assist.

Three losses and a objective differential of minus-5 additionally matches Canada’s efficiency at its solely different men’s World Cup in 1986.

“We came here to connect the country, unite the country,” Herdman mentioned earlier than the sport, throughout what he knew was his last pre-match press convention. One of the good instances of his life was coming to an finish, and there was nothing he might do to stop the inevitable. The first dream had come true, and the following dream would not.

“I think people are hurt because we’re going home early. People are really hurt. The players are hurt, the staff are hurt. We’ve worked bloody hard,” he mentioned. “It’s a tough moment.”

Canada head coach John Herdman offers his team directions. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

‘We are a soccer nation’

But for simply an immediate, Herdman transported himself midway around the globe, again to Canada and into the college assemblies which have been referred to as for hundreds, possibly tens of millions of girls and boys to observe three particular, crushing, lovely, agonizing video games.

“It’s those kids, in those schools,” Herdman mentioned, preventing by way of the lump in his throat. “It’s those kids, in those schools that will keep believing that Canada is a football country. Because they’ve seen that Belgium game. They’ve seen Davies score against Croatia. And they know we are a football country. We’re there. You can’t deny that.”

Nor can it’s denied that Canada has a lengthy method to go to be a high soccer nation. Losing 3 times at a World Cup is not a lot enjoyable. But shedding makes you higher, as a result of shedding reveals you what it took another person to win. That’s the true worth of being on this subject, with these groups. 

Here endeth the teachings; right here starteth the learnings.

Watch Soccer North dwell instantly following every of Canada’s video games on CBC Gem, and the CBC Sports YouTube channel

World Cup has been a humbling — but valuable — lesson for Canada’s men’s team

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