Canada and its football revolution has taken massive steps towards bigger glories, becoming the first North American nation to secure passage to Qatar 2022.
In the most fitting style and circumstances John Herdman’s side, who have surprised first their own country and then Concacaf, qualified with an emphatic 4-0 win over Jamaica at a raucous BMO Field in Toronto. The team sent thousands in the stadium – and millions more across the country – into delight.
The circumstances were fitting because the weather gods of the great white north scoffed at the idea of spring and sent freezing snow showers and wild winds whipping in off Lake Ontario for this historic Sunday. But the style too was apt because Herdman, the Englishman who has almost single-handedly transformed the country into a men’s football nation, saw his side conquer the climate and seal progress with 90 minutes of swashbuckling counter-attacking.
First of all, the Canada women’s team won gold at the Tokyo Olympics. And all the while, the men were steering a course to their first World Cup since 1986.Sunday marked Canada’s 24th game in exactly 12 months, a barely precedented schedule that should have been soul-sapping. It could have strained untested bodies and minds. Instead it bound the team together, forging a collective will that shone through one starry (and snowy) night after the next.
A journey that began with wins over the likes of the Cayman Islands behind closed doors has, in one year, accumulated memories to last lifetimes. Victory in Haiti as they advanced to the final qualifying round of Concacaf for the first time since 1998; Alphonso Davies’ solo wonder goal against Panama; vanquishing Mexico at the Iceteca; Milan Borjan bellowing as the US were beaten in Hamilton. Now this Canadian heritage moment: sealing a World Cup berth in squalls and sunshine.