Canada reached the final round of World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying with a 3-0 victory over Haiti in Chicago Tuesday. The Canadians won the two-legged tie 4-0, including a 1-0 win on Saturday.
It’s the first time Canada’s men have reached the final round of World Cup qualifying since the 1998 World Cup. And Canada coach John Herdman was suitably pleased with the accomplishment.
“It’s a proud moment for us all,” said Herdman after Tuesday’s win. “We’ll enjoy the moment. But at the same time we’ve just got to stay humble now because tomorrow the focus shifts on to the big mountain.
“And that big mountain is one of the most exciting mountains, I think, this whole country has got to try and climb together. And that’s where I’m inviting all you guys to come on the mountain (and) climb with us. Because it’s happening. We did it.”
Canada’s talent shines through
Canada carried the majority of play in first half creating a couple decent chances. But they weren’t able to convert them. And the sides went in at halftime scoreless.
The game’s first goal came shortly after the restart, when Haiti goalkeeper Josue Duverger misplayed a back pass then miss-kicked an attempted clearance into his own goal.
The Canadians found their second goal when Cyle Larin scored his 15th international goal after forcing a mistake from the Haitian defence in the 74th minute. And substitute Junior Hoilett rounded things off in the 88th minute with his 11th tally for country.
“That first 45 minutes we had a couple of good chances,” said Herdman. “And yeah, there was a feeling of ‘is this going to be our night?’ But we changed a couple of things at halftime – adapted to some of the opportunities they were giving us.
“After (the own goal) you could sense it. It was almost as if the bottle top had been released for the guys. And they could just drop their shoulders and let their talent start to flow.”
Canada were heavy favourites to advance to the final round of qualifying, boasting such exciting young talents as Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and Lille OSC’s Jonathan David. But Herdman admitted progressing through qualifying hasn’t been easy.
“The resilience I’ve seen, through a really tricky time for football, I thought helped build the spirit that shone through tonight,” said Herdman. “It’s just that Canadian grit and that spirit. And then our talent comes through.”
Final round of qualifying awaits Canada
The final round of Concacaf World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification, also known as the Octagon, is set to begin in September 2021 and wraps up in March 2022.
The final round will feature eight nations including USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, El Salvador and Panama. Each team will play 14 games, with the top three qualifying for the World Cup and the fourth place team advancing to the inter-confederation playoffs.
“It’s been a hell of journey,” said Herdman. “This year has been complicated. But the passion that these guys have shown, and the staff, to get us where we needed to be, which is in the Octagon.
“This team deserves to be there.”