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Why the men’s World Cup was a success for Canada

There’s plenty to be positive about after Canada’s first appearance at a men’s World Cup since 1986.

Soccer: FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022-Croatia at Canada
Canada forward Alphonso Davies (19) celebrates after scoring a goal against Croatia during the first half of a group stage match against Croatia during the 2022 World Cup at Khalifa International Stadium. 
Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

With the conclusion of the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup, enough time has gone by for the raw emotion of the moment to fade and for a more reflective lens to be placed upon the team and their performances.

The fact of the matter is, Canada was not supposed to get out of what ended up being the only group with two semi-finalists in it. Canada was in Pot 4 in the draw, a pot from which no teams advanced to the knockout round. It was always going to be difficult, and when it ended up being Belgium, Croatia and Morocco on the schedule, things got harder.

No, Canada didn’t win any games, but here are three reasons why I think you can chalk this tournament up as a success for Les Rouges.

Best ever performance

When Canada played in 1986, they failed to score while conceding five in three games. This time around? Well, they allowed seven (oops) but scored against Croatia (holding the lead for roughly 34 minutes) and forced Morocco to score on themselves. Two glorious goals that nobody can ever take away from the team and supporters.

Draw from hell

That was not an easy group to play in. If you don’t believe me, ask the team ranked second in the world pre-tournament. Belgium scored once in three games and their win and draw was not good enough to see them advance. The Croatia performance was quite poor, but Canada looked arguably the better team in both the Belgium and Morocco games and can feel a bit hard done by having no results to show for it.

Dress rehearsal

Okay, that part’s over with. Shake off the nerves, get over the shock of never having been there before, and take the experience and put it towards 2026. Because the core of this team isn’t going anywhere, and lessons can be learned and applied to playing on home soil next time out.

This is only the beginning, and with players like Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David entering their prime, there is much reason for optimism.