MLB lockdown nears end, players agree terms in time for 162

By Neil Davidson

After surviving and surprising in a marathon of 20 World Cup qualifying games, Canada will learn on Friday what awaits them in November in Qatar.

No matter who they face in Friday’s draw in Doha, Canada’s men will be treated with respect after finishing atop the CONCACAF Qualifying Final round robin and compiling an impressive 14-2-4 record in three rounds en route to the soccer showcase.

Coach John Herdman said Canada’s successful qualifying campaign, which included victories over traditional CONCACAF powerhouses Mexico and the United States, “must turn heads”.

“These are two of the 15 first nations that Canada has beaten,” he added. “And we’ve done it (by playing) almost half of this campaign without our No.1 player (Alphonso Davies) – the best left-back, the best left-winger, in my opinion, in the world.”

The Bayern Munich star hasn’t played for Canada since November after a bout of COVID led to signs of myocarditis, a mild heart inflammation in early January. The 21-year-old from Edmonton is now back in training with Bayern.

And whatever happens in Qatar, Herdman says his team will come out better.

“This 2022 World Cup campaign will lay a hell of a foundation for 2026 (when Canada co-hosts with the United States and Mexico),” Herdman said after Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Panama. “And we can go into this World Cup without any fear.

“No one really expects Canada to win it. I don’t think a lot of people would expect us to come out of the group (from the first round). If you asked people four years ago (four years ago), they didn’t even think we were going to be there.

Herdman will watch the draw from a television studio in Toronto. He did not travel to Doha as the deadline was too tight to travel there after Wednesday’s game in Panama City.

Canada Soccer President Nick Bontis and Marketing Director Sandra Gage will be in Doha where the 72nd FIFA Congress is taking place at the same time as the draw.

Asked about his team’s chances in Qatar, Herdman said he expects the Canadians to be “realistic”.

“I would never say it’s about going out there and participating. It’s absolutely go and compete,” he said. “But I’ve had enough of those experiences to know that you have to have had one to really compete in one. You have to have had it to really understand it.

“And I experienced a World Cup at home. I experienced World Cups in Germany, I experienced World Cups in China. And I’ve had these experiences to know that it takes time. And these boys, they’re going to go out there and enjoy it. The country will go there and take advantage of it. And our mission from day one was to score the first goal Canada had ever scored (at the Men’s World Cup), earn our first-ever point and hopefully win our first-ever game, to qualify. out of the group. And just to keep defying the odds.

“And that’s it. That’s all you can ask of this team. And if they have fun, play without fear, anything is possible.

Bookmaker William Hill has Canada 250-1 to win the World Cup.

The Canadians fell five places to 38th in the latest FIFA rankings after defeats in Costa Rica and Panama, but remain on track. Herdman says his side have gained valuable experience but believes more is needed on the club front.

Herdman, who leaves little to chance, said history has shown that teams need a minimum of “six players with the best teams in the top five leagues in the world (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) to get out of the first round. .

He pointed to Davies, Jonathan David (Lille, France), Milan Borjan (Red Star Belgrade, Serbia) and Cyle Larin and Atiba Hutchinson (both Besiktas, Turkey).

“These are the guys who have that Champions League experience. They played in hostile environments. They understand the pressures and scrutiny of top games,” he said. “And we are building that. We really build this as a team.

“By the time we get to Qatar, we hope Tajon (Buchanan) will play Champions League games (with Belgian Club Brugge) at the end of this year as an experience. And we hope some of these boys will have the opportunity to play in (the) Europa (League) and Champions League match.

And on the plus side, Herdman says the Canadian men have youth on their side for the 2022 and 26 World Cups.

“Where we are right (is that) we have the generational pool that will not disappear in the next 10 years. That’s the beauty of Canada.

Friday’s draw will feature four pots filled with teams per ranking. The host country, Qatar, and the seven highest ranked teams will form Pot 1 with the next eight highest ranked teams in Pot 2 and so on.

At No. 38, Canada will be in Pot 4 with No. 37 Cameroon, No. 46 Ecuador, No. 49 Saudi Arabia and No. 60 Ghana.

The other three places in pot 4 will be occupied by the winners of the two intercontinental qualifiers (Australia/United Arab Emirates/Peru or New Zealand/Costa Rica) and the last UEFA qualifier (Ukraine/Scotland/Wales).

The eight groups in the first round will have no more than one nation from any confederation except Europe due to the number of UEFA qualifiers.

Canada could possibly be drawn with the likes of No. 1 Brazil, No. 10 Netherlands and No. 20 Senegal. Or it could end in a pool with No. 51 Qatar, No. No. 16 Croatia and No. 35 Tunisia.

The opening group stage will last 12 days, from November 21 to December 2, with the winners and runners-up advancing to the round of 16.

In 1986, Canada was drawn with France, Hungary and the Soviet Union.

Friday’s draw will feature a global selection of soccer royalty with Cafu (Brazil), Lothar Matthaus (Germany), Adel Ahmed MalAllah (Qatar), Ali Daei (Iran), Bora Milutinovic (Serbia/Mexico ), Jay-Jay Okocha (Nigeria), Rabah Madjer (Algeria) and Tim Cahill (Australia) attend the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center.

American star Carli Lloyd and former England player Jermaine Jenas will also be there.

Pots for the Qatar 2022 draw (with FIFA ranking)

Saucepan 1: Qatar (n°51, host country), Brazil (1), Belgium (2), France (3), Argentina (4), England (5), Spain (7), Portugal (8)

Saucepan 2: Mexico (9), Netherlands (10), Denmark (11), Germany (12), Uruguay (13), Switzerland (14) United States (15), Croatia (16).

Jar 3: Senegal (20), Iran (21), Japan (22), Morocco (24), Serbia (25), Poland (26), South Korea (29), Tunisia (35).

Pan 4: Cameroon (37), Canada (38), Ecuador (46), Saudi Arabia (49), Ghana (60), winner of the intercontinental qualifiers (Australia, 42, or United Arab Emirates, 68 against Peru, 22), winner of the Intercontinental qualifiers (Costa Rica, 31, v New Zealand, 101), European qualifiers winner (Wales, 18, v Scotland, 39, or Ukraine, 27).

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 31, 2022

Neal T. Doss