On Wednesday, November 23—that's tomorrow!—Canada will be involved in something for the first time in 36 years.
Its national men's soccer team will play in the World Cup.
Its opening match is no gentle reintroduction either. They will play none other than the Number 2-ranked team in the world, Belgium. Led by such superstars as strikers Edin Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, and Manchester City midfield magician Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium is a team without any noticeable weaknesses. Gulp!
Canada's young hope
But Canada has reason to believe that they can put up a fight. A few reasons, actually.
The first is that they have one of the best young players in the world, left back Alphonso Davies. Still only 22, Davies is big, strong, quick, and extremely smart on the pitch. He is the kind of player who would likely be picked to the starting eleven (or starting lineup) of nearly any team in the world. Canada hasn't had a men's soccer player that good in, well, ever!
And Davies is not alone.
He is supported by a wealth of very good teammates, especially midfielder Stephen Eustaquio, and forwards Tajon Buchanan and Jonathon David. And like Davies, these players are all also young, and still getting better. It paints a bright future for Canadian soccer, one that extends way beyond just this tournament. (Which is great news since the tournament is coming to Canada in 2026!)
Group F: Fun? Or Frightening?
But make no mistake. This tournament is what it is all about right now. And playing in a difficult Group F, Canada really does have their hands full.
After Belgium, Canada will play on Sunday against the runner-up from the last World Cup, Croatia. And while their final match against Morocco is a bit more of an even match on paper, the North African nation is still ranked 19 spots higher than Canada in the world rankings.
In other words, Canada is a big underdog. But they're more than just excited to be here. In a recent interview, midfielder Jonathon Osorio, who is a star with Toronto FC said, "We don’t hope [any]more, we believe. And we’re very confident in ourselves.”
If Canada can play with a mixture of caution and confident attacking, they could end really surprising teams like Belgium and Croatia. As for moving beyond their group and into the next rounds of the tournament, the rules are simple.
The top two teams in each group advance. The bottom two go home.
Can Canada finish ahead of at least two of Belgium, Croatia, and Morocco? If they're looking for inspiration, they only need to have watched this morning, where the world's 51st-ranked Saudi Arabia beat Number 3 Argentina (featuring none other than Lionel Messi!).
Truly anything can happen!
Canada vs. Belgium will happen on Wednesday, November 23 at 3:00pm Atlantic/2:00pm Eastern/11:00am Pacific