The biggest tournament in the world starts at the end of November: the FIFA World Cup. Canada will take part for the first time since 1986.
The Reds take on Belgium, Croatia and Morocco in Group F, which has been labelled as the group of death. The tournament will be great for Canada as it will bring eyes to the country, the sport and benefit Canada economically. But will Canada do well in the tournament?
Although the moment will be great, Canada is far from being able to compete. Whether it’s winning a game or even scoring a goal.
Experience in the World Cup is vital to compete and reach the latter stages of the competition. Many coaches want players who have been there already, but Canada lacks experience. The majority of players are young and don’t play in high-end European competitions.
When Canada participated in their last World Cup 36 years ago, there was only one member of the current squad who was alive to see it; Captain Atiba Hutchinson. He was three years old.
According to Statista, a company specializing in market and consumer data, Canada is ranked in the top 10 youngest teams in the World Cup, which contains a total of 32 teams. So although the players will gain experience from this tournament, they currently lack that important experience.
The World Cup is an intense and vigorous tournament so squad depth is crucial to prevent fatigue as well as injury, and is also necessary to compete with other teams who do have depth.
Canada’s lack of a strong team will be detrimental to their pursuit to win a game or even score a goal. Top players Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David will have to play every minute, which will increase the chance of them getting tired and/or injured. If the two-star players can’t play, it will decrease Canada’s chance to win a game let alone qualify.
For instance, if Davies gets injured, the player who will likely replace him is Junior Hoilett. According to SofaScore, which is the most used outlet for statistics around player performances, Hoilett has a performance rating of 6.81 over the past three seasons, with 7.0 being considered the ‘average.’ Davies’s rating over the past three seasons is 7.7, this highlights his impact on the field.
What makes matters more different for Canada is the group they’ve been drawn in couldn’t be worse, as they will take on three quality teams. Belgium and Croatia, who are the favourites to qualify from the group, are in their ‘golden generation,’ meaning they have the best group of players their countries have ever witnessed.
This is considered to be the final opportunity for both generations to win a tournament for the first time in their histories, due to the core group of players coming to the end of their careers, so there are high expectations.
Croatia is the team to look out for in this group. They reached the final of the last World Cup in 2018, losing to France in the final with their captain Luka Modric was awarded the Golden Ball for best player of the tournament.
Then there is Morocco, who will most likely be eliminated alongside Canada in the group stages. Their squad isn’t considered elite like Croatia and Belgium, although they are considered dangerous since they do have multiple players who play in high-end European competitions.
Now the fact Canada qualified is an accomplishment of its own; the run they had in the CONCACAF qualifiers was memorable. Getting a record amount of points, beat every team they come up against including big wins against Mexico and USA, had the top goalscorer in qualifiers which was Cyle Larin and stayed undrafted at home.
It’s clear the task at hand will end in elimination due to the lack of experience, poor squad depth and the tough group. Without these key components, the dream of achieving success in the tournament is almost impossible.
So don’t get your hopes up but rather enjoy the moment.