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After 36 years, the Canadian national team qualified for the World Cup

A historic achievement that certainly didn't come about by chance

After 36 years, the Canadian national team qualified for the World Cup A historic achievement that certainly didn't come about by chance

If a year ago, or even a month ago, someone had suggested that Canada would have qualified for the World Cup in Qatar and Italy would have stayed at home, no one would probably have believed it. The first reaction would surely have been a resounding laugh, but football is always ready to give us great surprises and only 8 months before the start of the most famous competition in the world, the European champions are out of the games while Canada will return to play the World Cup after 36 years of absence. Apart from the improbable surprises that football always has in store for us, Canada's qualification is no accident, but is the result of skilful planning that began long, long ago.

The first step was taken in 2014 when the Canadian federation decided to adopt a strategic plan for growth and development (updated a few years ago) called "Leading a Soccer Nation". A plan with which the federation has set itself the goal of bringing football back to Canada, a nation that makes ice hockey its main creed and that is working to change direction through three fundamental points "DEVELOP, GOVERN, GROW". Three fundamental points through which the federation will take care of integrating all those second-generation Canadians, like Alphonso Davies, creating new and modern infrastructures and finally allowing everyone easy access to the world of football. The challenge was great, but against Jamaica the federation took the final step, imposing itself 4-0 on the Caribbean formation, without one of its strongest players, a result with a historic flavour that attests to the good work done over the years. Of course, it is a little strange to think that the last time this national team played in the World Cup was in 1986, when Maradona scored two of the goals that have remained in football history, but we will have to get used to their presence in 2022 and also in the years to come. Apart from Maradona, the World Cup was a complete failure as the Canadian side failed to score a single point in the group stage, losing all three matches.

The merits are not only to be found in the strategic plan of growth and development but also, and above all, in the boldness, courage and initiative of its semi-rookie coach: John Herdman. Practically unknown to the sporting chronicle, his career began in the Canadian federation but with the women's national team, only to move on to the men's national team in 2018, guiding it skilfully and neatly to the next World Cup. Football for him is more than just a sport, and it couldn't be otherwise if you were born and raised in England, the country that is considered the home of football as we know it. 

Over the years John Herdman has not only been able to shape the identity of his national team, which he has never had before, even changing the role of his best player, Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich full-back), but his work has been more painstaking, the kind that only a good manager is capable of doing. The most curious case is undoubtedly that of Stephen Eustaquio, a footballer of Portuguese origin, but who the English coach, by dint of travel and messages, convinced to marry the project. Eustaquio's name probably won't mean anything to you since he plays for a team like Paços Ferreira, which plays in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, not exactly one of the European powers that dominate the football scene every year. Yet the midfielder has taken the reins of the Canadian midfield, becoming one of the stars of this young and brash national team. 

The 4-2-2-2 then did the rest, giving the team an offensive and aggressive soul, ready to take everything that has been missing in these 36 years. In spite of everything, Canada's goal has not arrived by chance, the result of a planned work that must now be increasingly consolidated in view of the next World Cup that the national team will host in 2026 together with Mexico and the United States