PREVIEW – The 2022 CanMNT World Cup team will be all about making history. The first goal, first point, first win, or getting out of the group stage, in all these scenarios, Canada makes history. The CanMNT will play in Group F with Belgium, Croatia, and Morocco. The CanMNT will be appearing in their second FIFA World Cup appearance and also their first FIFA World Cup appearance since 1986.
The 2022 CanMNT World Cup: Looking to Making History
FIFA Ranking and History with some of the CanMNT Players
Belgium is the highest-ranked team in the FIFA World Cup in Group F. They are ranked second in the world according to FIFA and will also be Canada’s first opponent. The only previous meeting between these two teams was back on June 9, 1989. In that game, the Canadians lost 2-0 in an International Friendly.
Belgium manager Roberto Martínez calls Canada a "hidden threat" in interview with @TSNScianitti.
"Their strength is their togetherness," he added. "They play like a club team."
The world has noticed. #canMNT
— Farhan Devji (@farhandevji) April 1, 2022
Belgium does also understand the threat that the CanMNT possesses. The chemistry of the national team is like a club team as noted by the Belgium manager seen above. There are also players on Canada’s team that have experience playing in Belgium like Jonathan David and Tajon Buchanan. This factor may be a key reason why Belgium will take Canada seriously.
Players on Belgium
Kevin De Bruyne will be the player Canada will need to be aware of. The Manchester City player has been part of the team since 2015 and has played a big part in their success. As for Belgium, he played 93 games and scored 25 goals. One of those goals came in the quarterfinals against Brazil in the last FIFA World Cup, where Belgium won 2-1. Also, De Bruyne was given the Player of the Match against Brazil.
Eden Hazard of Real Madrid is another player Canada should be wary of. The forward has scored four goals in 51 appearances with Real Madrid. However, he has been a solid and consistent contributor to Belgium. He has scored 33 goals in 122 appearances and has been with the team since 2008. There will obviously be other players Canada will need to be aware of, but these two are near the top of the list.
Belgium’s Current Form and How They Did in Previous FIFA World Cups
Even though Belgium is seeded higher than Croatia, they have struggled to get results. For example, in Nations League, they lost to the Netherlands twice and drew with Wales. They then most recently lost to Egypt 2-1 on November 17. However, they are also a team that cannot be underestimated as they defeated Poland 6-1 on June 8, 2022. They have the players to break the game open if Canada is not careful.
Belgium qualified for the FIFA World Cup by topping the UEFA Group E with 20 points, five points clear of Wales, who made the FIFA World Cup via the UEFA Second Round. This will also be Belgium’s 13th FIFA World Cup appearance and third-straight FIFA World Cup appearance. Their best performance was in the last FIFA World Cup, where they finished third as they won the third-place medal game over England, 2-0.
Players for Croatia
Luka Modric is a 37-year-old midfielder for Real Madrid. He has also been with Madrid since 2012, appearing in 306 appearances and scoring 25 goals. For Croatia, he played 154 games and scored 23 goals. Defender, Domagoj Vida, is another player for Canadians to watch. He played a critical role in eliminating Russia in the FIFA World Cup quarterfinals match. In that game, he scored a goal and converted a penalty.
The AEK Athens player just started playing this year, but the 33-year-old defender has represented the national team since 2010, making 99 appearances and scoring four goals.
Croatia’s Current Form, and First-Ever Meeting with the CanMNT
This might also be the most dangerous of the three teams Canada will have to play. After losing to Austria, 3-0 at home, they had a record of four wins and one loss in Nations League play. This includes earning both a win and a draw against the defending FIFA World Cup champions, France. They also got a recent 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia on November 16, so they are in good form heading into the FIFA World Cup.
November 27 will be the first-ever meeting between the two sides as both teams have never met each other before. Croatia qualified for the FIFA World Cup by topping UEFA Group H with 23 points, just one more point than Russia, who had 22 points.
This will be Croatia’s sixth FIFA World Cup appearance and third-straight FIFA World Cup appearance. Their best performance was making the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final. In that tournament, they lost to the eventual champions, France, by a score of 4-2.
Croatia has the second highest ranking, as they are ranked 12th in the world.
How Morocco Qualified for the FIFA World Cup and their Recent Form
The only non-European side that Canada will be facing in the group stage is Morocco. The national team had an unbeaten record in FIFA World Cup qualifying. They won all six of their games in the Second Round of FIFA World Cup qualifying. They then drew 1-1 in the first leg and won 4-1 in the second leg against DR Congo to advance to the FIFA World Cup.
The Moroccans have played well since losing to the USMNT 3-0 on June 1, 2022. They won both their Africa Cup of Nations qualification games against South Africa and Liberia. They then won 2-0 against CONMEBOL Nation, Chile on September 23 and then had a scoreless draw against Paraguay on September 27. Additionally, Morocco then defeated Georgia 3-0 on November 17.
Notable Players from Morocco
Hakim Ziyech is the most well-known player from Morocco. The Chelsea and Moroccan midfielder played recently against Chile and Paraguay after not playing for the national team for 15 months, according to Ali Humayan of The Athletic. He did not score a goal in either of those games but did get some playing time. Ziyech has played 42 games for Morocco since 2017 and has 17 goals in those games. He also played for Chelsea with 50 appearances since 2020 and scoring seven goals.
This is what The Coaches Voice Scouting Report, said about Ziyech:
“He has incredible balance, speed, and acceleration and is able to shake off the attention of an opponent with ease and create himself shooting opportunities, rather than going down the line to cross.”
A player who can create scoring opportunities for himself will be something Canada will need to be wary of. Ziyech is a dangerous player and Canada will need to keep them in check in their final group-stage game.
Ranking the Top 10 Fastest Football Players in the World in 2022 https://t.co/xwq7hi1jhR
— NaijNaira (@naijnaira) November 18, 2022
Achraf Hakimi is known as the “Moroccans’ favorite celebrity,” according to Aya Benazizi of the Morocco World News. The 24-year-old currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain and has scored six goals in 45 appearances since 2021. For Morocco, he has scored eight goals in 53 appearances since 2016. Hakimi is ranked the second fastest soccer player in the world in the above article, just below Canada’s Alphonso Davies.
Morocco’s FIFA ranking is 22nd in the world, which is higher than Canada’s current 41st FIFA ranking.
How Morocco Did in Previous FIFA World Cups and its Head-To-Head with the CanMNT
Morocco will be making their sixth FIFA World Cup appearance and their second-straight FIFA World Cup appearance. Their best performance was in 1986 when they made the Round of 16, where they lost 1-0 to West Germany. This was the only time that Morocco got past the group stage of the FIFA World Cup.
Lastly, Morocco is the team that Canada is most familiar with of the three. Unfortunately, Morocco has a favourable record against Canada, being unbeaten with two wins and one loss. This includes a dominant 4-0 victory over the Canadians on October 11, 2016.
The 2022 CanMNT World Cup Preview: Predictions
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) November 13, 2022
Prediction: Round of 16.
- Croatia 7 points
- Canada (CanMNT) 6 points
- Belgium 4 points
- Morocco 0 points
The 2022 CanMNT World Cup group like many other groups is not an easy one. However, Canada does have the talent and the skill to finish in the top two. Morocco, while a good team, has some injury concerns with their team. Belgium has also struggled a bit recently in their recent build-up games.
Of course, anything can happen in the FIFA World Cup, but there is a reason why Canada finished first in the Concacaf World Cup qualifying. Additionally, the roster is out, and it includes notable players like FC Porto’s Stephen Eustáquio, FC Bayern Munich’s Davies, and Lille OSC’s Jonathan David.
One concern for Canada might be the injuries to Davies, Eustáquio, and Borjan as covered by John Herdman in Stephen Wade’s article for the Canadian Press, and if they will miss playing time in the FIFA World Cup.
The CanMNT games will be televised nationally on TSN and televised live in Quebec on RDS. The first game will take place at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan against Belgium on November 23 at 2:00 p.m. ET. The second game will be at the Khalifa International Stadium, which will again be at Al Rayyan. That game will kick off at 11:00 AM ET.
Finally, Canada’s last game will be against Morocco on December 1 at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar. That game will kick off at 10:00 AM ET. Canada will be looking to continue the momentum after winning against Japan on November 17 with Lucas Cavallini scoring the game-winning goal. They also drew with Bahrain on November 11.
“Main Photo Credit”
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