A winter World Cup, in a desert climate of the Arab World for the first time in history, halfway through a season, a few weeks before Christmas. Most soccer-loving nations were shocked when Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup. But not Team Canada and its fans. The Maple Leafs were just happy to be at a World Cup, anywhere.
When beating Jamaica by a convincing 4-0 scoreline to book its place in Qatar, Canada ended a nearly 40-year drought. This year was the first time Canada had qualified for the World Cup since 1986 and only the second time it's made it. Fans were delighted and prepared to back their team from the stadium or roar them on from home.
Sports fans across the country took advantage of Canada's new relaxed betting laws to back the boys to go all the way. Betting laws are different across the border in the United States, where Texas is pushing hard to legalize while California only recently got it through the courts. So the numbers of World Cup bets in the US were lower, but there was still plenty of support for Canada and Team USA.
Canada finished at the bottom of World Cup Group F behind pool winners Morocco, Croatia and Belgium as delight turned to despair for fans.
But Belgium's failure helped take some of the heat off a disastrous three games when it dropped out at the earliest opportunity. Morocco won the group with a draw followed by back-to-back wins, ahead of runners-up Croatia, who turned in two draws and one win.
Canada will jointly host World Cup 2026 with the USA and Mexico, so things must improve, with almost four years to prepare for the next World Cup.
Points win prizes, and goals win soccer matches. To win a tournament and lift the World Cup, a team must be strong in all departments, from the coaches to the substitutes. A strong attack is a great place to start for Canada.
Canada ended World Cup 2022 with just two goals scored in three games compared to group winners typically scoring between five and ten goals and runners-up scoring between four and nine.
A solid defense can take some of the heat off a faltering attack. The USA qualified for the knockout rounds in Group B despite scoring just two goals. But Canada's defense leaked an alarming seven goals in those three group outings.
In short, the goals against column tells something everybody already knew—Canada needs to be more careful at keeping the scores down and should be aiming.
That was only the second time the Canadians had qualified for the World Cup, and you can't buy experience. So, how can they improve over the next four years?
The Canadian squad is scattered worldwide, playing in major leagues in the United Kingdom and Europe. But they must find a way to get together more often. They must gel as a team and gain experience by playing as many friendlies as possible and against top-quality opposition. That can help improve their performance and be ready for World Cup 2026.
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