Canada will meet Belgium in their first World Cup match in 36 years tomorrow at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
The Canadian squad, led by John Herdman, is in great spirits. The Maple Leafs won the CONCACAF region’s final section of qualification ahead of Mexico and the United States, scoring the most goals and conceding the fewest.
While the squad’s stars are all attacking, creating a robust defence has been critical to Canada’s progress over the last four years. During the final stage, they preserved seven clean sheets, surrendering more than once in any game.
However, Canada’s away form is concerning, as they won only two of their seven road matches in qualification.
Their dismal appearance in 1986 is a distant memory. They will be confident of improving that despite a challenging group.
Star man Alphonso Davies, who suffered a hamstring injury with Bayern Munich two weeks ago, is highly uncertain for this match.
That is a heavy setback for Herdman. Davies is not only their talisman but crucial to how they may set up, due to his versatility in playing full-back, wing-back, on the wing, or as a number 10.
For Belgium, this represents the final chance for many of their ‘Golden Generation’ to win a major tournament. They will have to go into the opener without star forward Romelu Lukaku.