Close to a World Cup spot, Canada on the rise

Christine Sinclair, Canada’s veteran captain who has since become the all-time leading international scorer for either men or women, took to Twitter with her stunned reaction to the decision: “Speechless at the moment. »

Herdman’s jump between the teams turned out to be a winning decision. Canada’s men are set to go to the World Cup for the first time in 36 years.

Canada tops the CONCACAF standings for World Cup qualification, ahead of the United States and Mexico. Canada is undefeated in the final round with seven wins and four draws.

Along the way, the team has risen significantly in the FIFA rankings, rising from No. 94 when Herdman took over in 2018 to No. 33 today.

“This team, this program, we have been through a lot. We had a lot of tough times and heartbreaking results,” said captain Atiba Hutchinson. “And for it to happen like it’s happening now, we’re a fearless team and we have a lot of confidence. We’re just speaking out now.

Canada posted a perfect 3-0 record in the previous qualifying window, with a trio of 2-0 wins over Honduras, USA and El Salvador.

On Thursday, Canada will visit Costa Rica for the first of three qualifying matches. Win and they will secure a place in Qatar. The team then hosts Jamaica in Toronto on Sunday before the final game in Panama next Wednesday.

CONCACAF’s top three earn their World Cup berth. The fourth place team will face a team from Oceania in an intercontinental playoff match.

Herdman called the team’s quest “New Canada”.

“With this mission, there are a number of objectives that lie underneath. You are not the New Canada unless you are truly pioneering in this time period. For us internally we have very clear goals that we are laser-focused on and we are on the right track,” he said. “We’re well on our way to really establishing ourselves as a New Canada and, as the players have said, warning the world.”

It’s not just the men of Canada who have seen success lately. The women’s team won gold last summer at the Tokyo Olympics under Herdman protege Bev Priestman.

Known more as a hockey nation, Canada’s rise on the international soccer scene has been building for two decades.

It all really started in 2002, when the country hosted the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship (later the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup). A young Sinclair scored five goals in the quarter-final against England. It generated such excitement that attendance surged, with more than 47,000 fans in the final against the United States, still a tournament record.

Canada then hosted the 2007 U-20 Men’s World Cup, which generated $259 million in economic spinoffs. This paved the way for Canada’s successful bid for the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

The women’s team is now ranked sixth in the world as they prepare to qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup. The foundation was laid by Herdman, who was appointed coach in 2011.

“If you ever hear these Canadian men talk, they talk about passion and legacy and playing for brotherhood, for each other. And that’s something I really believe in too, because I was lucky enough to play under a coach like John Herdman, who emphasizes team first in all things. And now you see that success on the men’s side,” said former defenseman Rhian Wilkinson, now coach of the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League.

For the men, making the pitch in Qatar is not the end goal.

“I’ve always said it, but these guys are fighting for something way beyond a three-point game and a qualification for Qatar, and we have been since I took over. team,” Herdman said. “There was real clarity. It took time for players to really burn it in their minds and connect around this common goal. And it is there now. It’s so clear.

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