Canada celebrated the sport of soccer on Sunday as the Canadian men won qualification for the 2022 World Cup.
They did it in style, hammering an overmatched Jamaican side 4-0 on a freezing day at BMO Field to improve their CONCACAF qualifying record to 14-1-4 in three rounds and end a lack of 36 years of men’s football showcase.
“I think this country, they never believed in us. Because we gave them nothing to believe in,” said coach John Herdman, the architect of Canada’s men’s success. “They believe now.
Qatar is waiting for this month of November and the rest of the world better watch out.
“We are the best team in CONCACAF,” said midfielder Jonathan Osorio.
“Now people believe,” added the Toronto FC veteran, shivering with cold. “And it’s amazing how much people believe in it. And it’s only going to get better. Now we want to go to a World Cup and really make a statement.”
WATCH | Canada books its ticket to the World Cup with a resounding victory against Jamaica:
Canada, who only needed a draw on Sunday to qualify, outscored their opponents 54-7 while posting 12 clean sheets in qualifying.
Cyle Larin, Tajon Buchanan and Junior Hoilett scored as the Canadians rocked out with the Reggae Boyz in front of a loud and proud crowd of 29,122. A Jamaican own goal in the 88th minute completed the scoring. And the margin of victory could have been much more lopsided.
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For Herdman, who led the Canadians to a back-to-back Olympic bronze medal before taking charge of the men’s team in January 2018, it was a turning point.
“We are a football country,” he said. “We have a child [Alphonso Davies] win the Champions League final. We have players all over Europe. We have young children coming. And we have just qualified for a World Cup. It is a legitimate football country.
Canada (8-1-4, 28 points to lead the final CONCACAF qualifying round) dominated from the start, racking up scoring chances like firewood. The home side were leading 1-0 after 13 minutes and 2-0 at the break. It could have been 4-0 midway through the first half when the sun made its first appearance.
Jamaica (1-7-5, eight points) spent the afternoon in reverse. The game was over and dusted off after the first half.
The historic victory came 37 years after Canada qualified for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico with a 1-0 victory over Honduras on September 14, 1985 in St. John’s, Newfoundland. they lost all three games without scoring a goal.
Canada soccer had its peak with the sixth-ranked Canadian women winning gold last summer at the Tokyo Olympics. Now the 33rd-ranked men, led by Herdman, have time to shine in Qatar, while extending their lead to the 2026 World Cup, which Canada is co-hosting with the United States and Mexico.
Costa Rica’s loss set the stage for Toronto’s celebration.
“I’m so glad we didn’t win in Costa Rica,” said a smiling Herdman.
“I’m so happy this is how it was meant to be,” he added. “So I know why the football gods wouldn’t let us score [in Costa Rica]. It was for tonight.”
Canada will finish the qualifier on Wednesday in Panama.
A recorded message also played on Davies’ video card, back in Germany where he is recovering from myocarditis, heart inflammation after a bout of COVID.
Former national team players like Paul Stalteri, Dwayne De Rosario, David Edgar, Lyndon Hooper, Julian de Guzman, Craig Forrest, Iain Hume and 1986 World Cup squad member Paul Dolan went on to form a guard of honor on the pitch as the players were introduced with 39-year-old captain Atiba Hutchinson the last man.
The celebration continued in the warmer climes of the Canadian locker room where cheers flowed and spas were popular.
Bring the warmth in the middle of winter
On a cold day, Canada came out hot and were rewarded for their dominance in the 13th minute when, after a lightning fast counter-attack, Hoilett squared the ball to Stephen Eustáquio who threaded the needle to place Larin behind defense. The Besiktas forward calmly slipped the ball past goalkeeper Andre Blake for his 24th goal for Canada, extending his national men’s goalscoring record.
Buchanan made it 2-0 in the 44th minute as Jamaica failed to manage a free kick the Club Brugge winger deserved after being brought down midway through several passes. A defender deflected a header from Eustáquio’s free-kick, but it fell directly on Jonathan David, whose cross fell at Buchanan’s feet in front of goal.
WATCH | Buchanan increases the Canadian lead before the end of the 1st half:
He celebrated the goal with his trademark backflip.
Hoilett made it 3-0 in the 83rd after Buchanan snatched the ball from a defender after a corner and fed the veteran Hoilett, who ran through the penalty area and beat Blake for his 14th goal for Canada.
Adrian Mariappa’s failed attempt to clear a Sam Adekugbe cross ended in the Jamaican goal to make it 4-0.
Also on Sunday, Costa Rica won 2-1 in El Salvador. At the end of the match, it was Panama in the United States and Mexico in Honduras.
The top three teams qualify for Qatar as representatives of North and Central America and the Caribbean, while the fourth runner-up faces a team from Oceania in an intercontinental match to see who will join them.
Thursday marked the fourth anniversary of Herdman’s first game in charge of the men, a 1-0 victory against New Zealand in Murcia, Spain, in front of just 75 people. His men’s record now stands at 29-7-4 with the only losses to the United States (twice), Mexico (twice), Costa Rica, Haiti and Iceland.
Canada’s men were ranked 73rd in the world, compared to Jamaica’s 47th, when they started World Cup qualifying in March 2021. Today, Canada is 33rd while Jamaica is 62nd.