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How Canada Can Build Its World Cup Run Ahead Of The 2026 Cycle

AL RAYYAN, Qatar – Canada’s men’s national team has made history, but it’s not enough.

The team’s performance was breathtaking at various stages, but Canada lost all three games. It is difficult to draw overarching conclusions based on small sample sizes in a tournament setting, especially with the men’s World Cup being held domestically for the first time in 36 years.

The underlying numbers highlight Canada’s bad luck. According to FBRef.com, Canada had the highest expected goal difference (xG) in Group F. There you have the fun of a 3-game group stage in a highly distributed sport.

However, despite the loss, Canada still had many valuable lessons to learn. Les Rouges As coach John Hardman notes, these “learnings” can be applied when co-hosting the 2026 World Cup.

Canada is expected to make significant progress in three and a half years. To that end, there are several factors to consider.

Here’s how Canada can build this World Cup to get back on its feet in 2026.

Get more “Tier 1” players

Back in 2019, Hardman received backlash for calling his defense a “Tier 3” in a live TV interview.

“If you put[the team]on paper, it’s Concacaf’s Tier 3 back four and Tier 1 front four,” Hardman said at the time. , has not performed on the international or even national stage.”

In hindsight, those weren’t outlandish comments. Canada’s defense was the best in World Cup qualifiers, but it was mainly due to Milan Boljan’s excellent goalkeeping that he surpassed his xG by conceding five goals.

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When Canada faced top opponents (more on that later), they made small mistakes, from Boljan’s mistakes and defensive aerial weaknesses against Morocco to not chasing the runners in their 4-1 loss against Croatia. was punished for each

Croatia has 19 ‘Tier 1’ players playing for big clubs in Portugal, the Netherlands and Belgium who regularly participate in Europe’s top five leagues or the UEFA Champions League. Belgium have 21 and Group F winners Morocco have 14.

Six in Canada. Only seven nations have fewer at this World Cup, with only Australia making it to the last 16.

“That’s one of the big questions that we as a country continue to have to answer,” Hardman said when asked if the national team needed more first-class players. “Now our players have been seen.

“We know people all over the world are looking at this country and saying, ‘Wow, we have a young, talented and talented player.'”

It was their first appearance in the tournament since 1998 when Morocco qualified for the 2018 World Cup. The North African team was placed in Pot 4 and drew with Spain, Portugal and Iran. We put up a good fight, but ended up finishing bottom of Group B.

Morocco had eight tier 1 players at the time, but they were behind Spain and Portugal.

But four years later, Morocco are making steady progress in the Africa Cup of Nations, recruiting more dual nationals and boasting a squad of 14 tier 1 players in the tournament. They beat Croatia and Belgium to lead the group, setting up their first knockout stage match in 36 years.

Canada’s strength is its diversity. There are countless dual-citizens who have been in some of Europe’s biggest academies who want to represent Canada, the Canadian Premier League and Major League Soccer are two of his favorites that didn’t exist three years ago. Offers a new path (for CPL).

Alistair Johnston is on the verge of joining Scottish giants Celtic, who are under tremendous performance pressure. he plays in the Champions League. Ismael Kone is likely to join him in Europe, with several clubs reportedly chasing the 20-year-old midfielder.

Playing with these settings will help prepare players for the high-pressure environment of the future.

Face a Marquee Opponent

Canada had achieved first before the World Cup. September’s Uruguay friendly was the first South American opponent in eight years for the men’s team.

Aside from Iceland’s B team in January 2020, the Canadian hadn’t even played anyone other than Konkakh for four years until they faced Qatar a few days before Uruguay.

This is life at Konka Cafe.

Belgium was the first time Canada faced a top 10 team in the FIFA rankings in over a decade. The Nations League makes it difficult to play friendly matches against these countries, but reaching the World Cup opens up new possibilities.

“Now teams would want to play with Canada and teams would invite Canada,” Hardman said.

The star power of Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, coupled with Canada’s spectacular performances, will undoubtedly lead to further developments.

Facing the South American elite in a friendly or invitation to the 2024 Copa America would be a good start.

It would also be hard man worthy. He must have learned a lot about himself as a coach, tactical or not, playing against other top level coaches and the national team.

Improving Youth Programs

This year’s crop of under-20 players was full of potential. Unfortunately, they failed to qualify for the U-20 World Cup and his 2024 Olympics by withdrawing the Concacafe U-20 Championship in Round 16 against Guatemala.

Optimism intensified after April’s friendly against Costa Rica’s U-20. Then, out of nowhere, the players seemed to be in shackles.

After the tournament, multiple sources told Sportsnet that there was a sudden change in tactical philosophy from April’s camp to Concacafe U-20, which may have contributed to the team’s disjointed play. there is.

In any case, the performance of the youth team will not suffer. The federation has been missing out on several dual nationals due to lack of camp, and for the first time in years the U-20 met before the Conca-Café Championship. The dual citizen was thrilled to represent Canada and spurred call-ups from other top countries to do so.

But whether it’s coaching or overall funding — with more than $10.5 million underway after player cuts — youth programs need to focus more.

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How Canada Can Build Its World Cup Run Ahead Of The 2026 Cycle

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