The First Step
Canada’s journey to qualify for the FIFA World Cup tournament in Qatar 2022 kicked off yesterday as the Canadian Sr Men’s team (ranked 73rd in the world) took on 169th ranked Bermuda. The Canadian team lead by International soccer sensation Alphonso Davies who had assists on all 3 of Cyle Larin’s goals, came away with a deserved 5-1 win over the much lower ranked Bermuda squad.
The score could’ve been much more lopsided though, in the first half Lucas Cavallini had three marvellous chances that all should’ve ended up in the back of the net which would’ve resulted in an absolutely dominating first half. Either way the Canadian squad minus two of their top players (Jonathan David and Jonathan Osorio) did exactly what they needed to against a Bermuda squad that was also missing some key players due to quarantine rules.
The journey to the World Cup is a long one so let’s try and break it down to see what exactly Canada is up against to make the cut.
The soccer world is split into six different confederations and each each federation gets a limited amount of spots in the World Cup which is a tournament comprised of 32 teams. These federations are based geographically, there is the European (UEFA), African (CAF), Asian (AFC), Oceanic (Asutralia and surrounding areas) (OFC), South American (CONMEBOL), and North American (CONCACAF) regions.
Canada is part of the CONCACAF region, which stands for the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football. The CONCACAF region gets a total of 3 guaranteed spots in the 2022 World Cup and a total of 35 countries fighting for those 3 spots in a large tournament.
So in stage 1 the top 5 ranked countries in CONCACAF get a bye through to the third and final round, Canada is currently the 7th ranked team in CONCACAF so they have to fight through all 3 rounds making their path fairly difficult.
In the first round teams ranked from 6-35 were placed into a draw to make 6 groups of 5 teams. Each team will play the other team in their group once. You get 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 for a loss. The winner of each group moves on to round two.
Canada (73rd) has been placed in group B with Bermuda (169th), Cayman Islands (193rd), Suriname (141st), and Aruba (200th). Canada will play each of these teams once, the team with the most points in this group will move on to round 2. Which Canada should be able to do, it would be a massive disappointment if they didn’t make it through.
Once stage one is completed, all the winners of those 6 groups will play a 2 game set vs another group winner. It will be structured as such
Winner A vs Winner F
Winner B vs Winner E
Winner C vs Winner D
Canada is in group B, so if they win will take on the winner of group E. Group E contains Haiti (84th), Nicaragua (149th), Belize (170th), St Lucia (175th), Turks and Caicos Islands (203rd). Barring anything crazy happening, it’s probable that Haiti will come out as the group E winner.
Most likely it will end up being Canada Vs Haiti in stage two unless either of those two teams has a big collapse of some sort.
Now all the winners of these 3 matches will advance to the third and final stage.
This is where teams ranked 1-5 in CONCACAF come back into play. Those top five teams along with the three winners from Stage two will all play a double round robin against each other, with the top three teams advancing into the world cup. A total of 14 matches will be played by each team during this stage.
Canada will need to finish top 3 in order to get into the 2022 World Cup.
If Canada ends up placing 4th during stage 3, all hope isn’t lost quite yet. The 4th place team gets put into an intercontinental tournament where the team would be put into a draw and have a single elimination tournament for the final World Cup spot.
Stage 1 – Canada must finish first in a single round robin vs Bermuda, Aruba, Suriname, and the Cayman Islands.
Stage 2 – Canada must defeat the winner of Group E in a two legged home and away matchup
Stage 3 – Canada must finish top 3 in an 8 team double round robin containing the top 5 CONCACAF teams as well as the 2 other winners of stage 2.
Stage 4 – The last hope stage. If Canada finishes 4th in stage 3, the go into an intercontinental tournament for the final world cup spot.
In total that would be 20 games to secure their spot.
It’s a long road ahead of the Canadian squad, let’s hop on the boat and enjoy the journey knowing we have a few European stars in Davies and David to put on a show while we enjoy the ride.