How Canada can clinch a spot in the 2022 FIFA World Cup tonight
Don’t adjust your television sets: Canada really can clinch a spot at the 2022 FIFA World Cup tonight.
Facing off in Costa Rica on Thursday night against a team they topped 1-0 back in November, Canada can punch its ticket to the world’s biggest soccer tournament.
With three games remaining, Canada sits first in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying, with the top three teams earning an automatic berth to this year’s tournament (with the fourth-place team going to an interconfederational playoff in Qatar in June).
With a record of seven wins and four draws, Canada has already secured a top-four berth and sits two points behind automatic qualification.
The most straightforward path for Canada to clinch the berth would be with a win in any of its final three games, which would earn the team an outright spot at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Canada can also book its ticket to Qatar with a draw combined with a Panama loss or draw. Another scenario where Canada can clinch is a draw in Costa Rica combined with a loss or draw by USA in Mexico.
The last clinching scenario for Canada involves a loss to Costa Rica combined with a loss or draw by Panama, and a loss by USA.
Canada could actually take a major step towards qualifying mid-game tomorrow, with Panama’s clash against Honduras (9 pm ET/6 pm PT) starting an hour earlier than Canada-Costa Rica (10 pm ET/7 pm PT).
For Canada, players and staff are keeping their eyes on the task ahead, and not spending too much time thinking about differing scenarios.
“It’s about playing every second every moment of the game, just staying away from the occasion, staying away from the scoreboard,” Canada’s head coach John Herdman told reporters on Wednesday. “[We’re] staying away from what’s happening in other matches.”
Canada hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 1986, where it lost all three matches without scoring a goal.
“Every man knows what’s in front of them,” Herdman added. “They’re in the front row seat. Their hands are on the steering wheel.”
It’s been a remarkable qualifying campaign for Canada, as the team has now yet to lose through 17 matches across three rounds. For a country so used to disappointment with the men’s national team, Herdman highlighted Alphonso Davies’ game-winning goal against Panama in October as a moment that helped galvanize the country’s belief in the team in the ability for Canada to clinch a FIFA World Cup berth.
“That really got the country to believe that we can do this,” Herdman said. “When that belief is there, you start believing anything can happen.”
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