Alphonso Davies: World Cup has changed “perception” of Canada – December 2022

A humbling 4-1 defeat to Croatia on Matchday 2 ruled the Canadian men’s national team out of contention for the Round of 16, rendering Thursday’s Group F finale against Morocco a mere consolation clash (10 am ET | FOX, Telemundo in US; TSN in Canada).

But this won’t be a typical “dead rubber” for Canada.

Les Rouges were the darlings through the first batch of games, having gone toe-to-toe with Belgium, and largely outplaying the No. 2-ranked team in the world for the vast majority of the 90 minutes. Yet they suffered a 1-0 defeat.

Optimism was high that, perhaps, Canada could go one step further against Croatia. That was not to be after Sunday’s match produced a 4-1 defeat to the 2018 World Cup runner-up.

Morocco are now Canada’s shot at redemption, not just to prove the Croatia setback was a one-off, but to show the wider Canadian public this team is evolving and improving before the 2026 World Cup arrives on their shores (co-hosted with USA and Mexico).

The Canadian poster boy of that tournament three-plus years from now, along with this current squad in Qatar, certainly believes the CanMNT are on the right path.

“We gained a lot of new supporters around the world,” said Alphonso Davies after training on Tuesday. “A lot of people felt that Canada wasn’t maybe a footballing country and hopefully after the tournament, we change that perception.”

Higher levels

Davies is used to the big stage by now. At 22, he’s already won multiple German Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich, a UEFA Champions League and other honors in his young career that started in 2016 with Vancouver Whitecaps FC. For nearly seven years, he’s been the center of attention.

But it’s one thing to go through the motions at club level; it’s another to experience a World Cup and represent your country.

Davies has experienced a whirlwind week. It began with his penalty kick saved by Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois against Belgium, only to be avenged by scoring Canada’s first goal at a men’s World Cup – a powerful header inside 70 seconds vs. Croatia. What followed was a crushing defeat that ended any hope of advancing to the knockout stage.

But there have been valuable lessons learned that can apply. For starters, the lack of ruthlessness against Belgium or the “little details” – as head coach John Herdman labeled them – that ultimately led to Croatia’s comeback victory.

Regardless, it’s clear Canada are on the rise as a soccer nation – not just topping Concacaf’s qualification process. More players are joining top-tier leagues, with CF Montréal defender Alistair Johnston reportedly soon joining Scottish giants Celtic. With that comes Champions League matches, another Canadian participating in Europe’s premier club competition.

Herdman has constantly stated the need for his players to play at the absolute highest level, so they can thrive in settings like the World Cup. The recent migration patterns are promising.

“Each and every player on this team has the potential to play for some of the top teams in the world,” said Davies. “The quality we have on this team is tremendous. Definitely excited to see where every player will be in a couple years.”

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