clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Canada Draw Belize, Group of Death in World Cup Qualifying

Canada weren't able to take advantage of a weak draw last World Cup qualifying, and now they will have to face the best of CONCACAF is they want to qualify for Russia 2018.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Today Canada learned its opponent for Round 3 of World Cup qualifying, but it is who they play should they win the two legged playoff that is the story.

Canada drew Belize for the home-and-away playoff that constitutes round 3 of World Cup qualifying, giving them a very strong chance of reaching the fourth round once again.

Once they reach that fourth round, however, things will get difficult. Canada was drawn into Group A, which means they will play Mexico, Honduras and the winner of El Salvador and Curacao. That is a big ask for a Canadian team that wasn't able to get out of a very similar, if not worse, Gold Cup group.

It also means that, should they beat Belize, Canada will likely be forced to return to the venue of their most infamous defeat: the 8-1 loss in San Pedro Sula, Honduras that eliminated them from 2014 World Cup qualifying.

In theory Belize should be an easy victory for the Canadians, but that hasn't always been the case for a team that likes to make things difficult on themselves. Belize are ranked just behind Canada in the FIFA standings at 118th in the World.

They are coming off of a recent dismantling of the Dominican Republic in round 2 of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, who they beat 5-1 over two legs.

Their roster is almost completely domestically based as most of them play for Belize club Police United. 33-year-old Elroy Smith is their star defender having played most of his career in Honduras. Forward Deon McCauley is their goal threat, and plays for the Atlanta Silverbacks of MLS.

The matches between Canada and Belize will be played in August and September. The home leg looks likely to be played in Toronto, although construction going forward could mean this is the last game at the national soccer stadium in some time.

That means when round four of qualifying opens up Canada will have to find an alternative venue to play their matches in, should they advance. The lead candidate would be Montreal's Saputo Stadium as it is a real grass venue, although Vancouver's BC Place has certainly made a strong case with recent national team crowds.

Those home matches will be crucial for Canada to advance to the Hex, or final stage of qualifying, for the first time this century. Away from home Canada will be forced to not only play in the hostile San Pedro Sula, but also the legendarily difficult Azteca Stadium in Mexico.

Both Honduras and Mexico will be favourites to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, as both were at the last tournament in Brazil. Mexico is also currently in the final of CONCACAF Gold Cup, and are the second ranked team in the confederation.

El Salvador have taken big strides in recent years, and are currently ranked 88th in the World after a strong Gold Cup. They finished ahead of Canada in their Gold Cup group as a result of goals scored.

Benito Floro has already put his emphasis on World Cup qualifiers as incredibly important for Canada, but unless he is able to do something miraculous this team's road to the hex seems almost impossible.

Should Canada somehow make it to the final round of World Cup qualifying, however, there was some good news that came out of today's draw. The fourth place team in the hex will play the Asian confederation in an intercontinental playoff, which is likely one of the easiest draws possible.