Looking Back at Good and Bad of Canada Soccer in The World Cup

Looking Back at Good and Bad of Canada Soccer in The World Cup

Canadian soccer has reached its greatest ever period in soccer history. As of February this year, it reached its highest-ever ranking in the FIFA World Rankings, it has young talent that European soccer giants are oozing over and has advanced to its first World Cup in 36 years.

The last time Canada made it to the finals of soccer’s biggest stage was 1986. So, let’s take a look at the history of the national team at the World Cup before battle in Qatar in November.



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How Has Qualification for the World Cup Previously Gone?

It’s gone really bad.  

The first five World Cups from 1930-54, Canada was not part of FIFA and never even entered a qualification group as a result. Its first attempt was in 1958, and two losses and two wins meant it did not make it to the finals in Sweden.

Many more poor efforts would come between 1970-82, with it not entering the qualification stage again in the 1960s. It eventually qualified for the 1986 finals in Mexico. 

Then came the infamous 36-year wait, with its best attempt to qualify was for USA 1994 and Brazil 2014.

Canada brutally lost in a penalty shootout in the 1994 qualification stage to Australia in an inter-confederation playoffs final.

To put previous qualification attempts into perspective, Canada qualified this year with 14 wins in 20 games. Its previous best before this was seven wins in 12 games back in that 2014 run.

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What Happened in 1986?

Although the country was ecstatic to qualify, it was quickly brought back to earth after registering one of the worst records in the history of the World Cup finals. 

Canada lost all three of its games at Mexico 1986. It lost to France 1-0, Hungary 2-0 and USSR 2-0. The team was sent them back to the Great White North with no goals scored. 

The Canadians finished worse than Iraq, Algeria, and Northern Ireland that year.

Although the record wasn’t the worst to be recorded at a World Cup, Canada joined Zaire as one of the few nations to lose every game and not score a single goal at a finals.

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The Players From then to Now

The most important historical note about Canada at the World Cup is to detail the incredible rise in standard from then to now. 

Scottish-born Colin Miller was a 21-year-old star back then. He was one of only two players plying his trade within a top European league with Rangers in Scotland. 

Randy Samuel was another big name with PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands during its glory years in the mid-80s.

Outside of these players, Canada lacked notable talent, with everyone else playing for soccer clubs in Canada and the United States that have since gone on to dissolve. 

The exceptions are Igor Vrablic, who played in Belgium, Ian Bridge in Switzerland, Terry Moore in Northern Ireland and Paul James who played for Monterrey in Mexico. 

In comparison to the Canadian superstars lighting up Europe today, the likes of Alphonso Davies, Cyle Larin, and Jonathan David already have incredibly better résumés than those in the 1986 squad.