Canada falls back to Belgium in World Cup return


RAYYAN, Qatar – Canada reappeared at the World Cup after 36 years on Wednesday, bringing freshness, verve, quickness, quickness, spark, sparkle, gumption, derring-do, cosmopolitanism, the really cool anthem sung by many players and staff, penetrations, crosses , through balls and competence but no goals.

It lost 1-0 to Belgium because football imitates life and life is not fair.

It made the ostentatious Belgium and its golden generation look older for the possible reason that the ostentatious Belgium and its golden generation might age. The presence of a new foe full of brazen fighters made Belgium look like it was living in the fumes of the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the past two World Cups. At times it seemed to creak almost audibly in the cool, clear night, even though 40,432 people at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium may have drowned out the sound. Manchester City’s Belgian star playmaker, 31-year-old Kevin De Bruyne, had a sombre voice as he said afterwards: “No, I don’t think I played a great game. No, I don’t know why I have the trophy [for man of the match].”

He said his team had left the pitch too wide, as manager Roberto Martínez said: “We made the pitch too big.”

The whole thing led to the manager who technically lost, John Herdman of Canada, huddled with his team as he bubbled with passion and said, “You’ve shown you can live here!” That’s true. Herdman later said, “I’m proud of the boys. The effort was unreal. . . And if we can attack relentlessly, we will get something out of these matches. This group is wide open.’ He jokingly advised “four days of target practice” ahead.

The first question to Martínez, Belgium’s manager since way back in 2016, was whether this had indeed been the worst major game of his Belgian tenure.

“Were we technically the worst match? Yes,’ he said.

“Was it the worst match? No,” he said, because a win excludes that distinction.

To clarify: Belgium did open Group F with a win and jumped on top of the group that also included Croatia and Morocco, who drew 0-0 because they did not let go of their know-how. “Winning when you don’t play well doesn’t come by accident,” said Martínez. Belgium took advantage of Canada’s festival of bold bids adorned with errant shots, and then it caught the one play it would eventually need.

That came after 43 minutes, when Toby Alderweireld, the 33-year-old in his 125th cap, sent a long and beautiful contraption upfield at maybe 60 yards and crashed into a spot where it could be useful. Michy Batshuayi, the 29-year-old often referred to as “Batsman,” has misunderstood as much as he understood, charging into the box and quickly grabbing it at the start of his second hop with defenders Richie Laryea and Kamal Miller. breathing on him and then drilling it to the right back corner of the target in a hurry.

Dishonesty filled the air.

Canada, with its sparkling 22-year-old phenom Alphonso Davies, looking healed from a hamstring injury and moving electrically, must have looked very different from what just 14,200 spectators saw on June 9, 1986 in Irapuato, Mexico. That day, in their previous World Cup game, the Canadians ended their stay with a 2-0 loss to, yes, the Soviet Union, and they left that World Cup both scoreless and goalless.

They’re still looking for that first goal, and you have to think they’re going to get it here, and they almost had it within minutes. That’s when Tajon Buchanan fired a shot from a crowd in the penalty area, and legendary 30-year-old goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois took it, but VAR review showed Belgian Yannick Carrasco gave it, and suddenly Canada got a penalty after about nine minutes. even though it took about half way to an eternity for the referee to blow the whistle on the way.

Davies took it and slid it to the left, just as Courtois lunged to the right to meet it and knocked it back into the box, where Davies sort of whacked it again but skied a sub-optimal chance. With that, Courtois leapt his chest like a Pharaoh off the goalmouth, and his teammates surrounded him with admiration and gratitude.

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After that, his team slowly moved on. “You have to have tremendous respect for Canada’s performance,” Martínez said. “We knew they are so dynamic, so aggressive.” He called them “a modern team” on which “everyone defends” and “everyone attacks.” He also mentioned the strange timing of this 22nd World Cup, with its limited time for newfound team cohesion, saying: “Today is our fifth day together. You see the format would be about the national teams growing through the group stages. If you can win while doing that, it’s going to be an incredible opportunity.”

But before Belgium could begin the next few days of “self-criticism and analysis”, as Martínez put it, Canada had pressed on, en route to a 19-6 lead in shots. Shots went wide on the right. Shots went wide on the left. Shots were mostly about the target. Courtois dove to the right and stopped Cyle Larin’s header after a fine cross from Alistair Johnston in the 79th minute. Davis recovered beautifully from the penalty, earning Herdman’s assessment as “brilliant tonight” and “much more disciplined” while showing “courage” and being “resilient”.

All that and more as it went on through the first half and most of the second, until the whole thing became an entertaining reminder that life isn’t fair.

World Cup in Qatar

Live Updates: European powerhouses take center stage in Qatar on Wednesday as World Cup group play continues. Follow along for the latest news, updates and highlights.

USMT: On their return to the World Cup, the young Americans settled for a 1-1 draw against Wales in their Group B opener. The US men’s national team faces a bigger task on Friday against Group B favorites England, who beat Iran 6-2 earlier on Monday.

Qatar controversy: Soccer fans wearing the rainbow, a symbol of LGBTQ inclusion, have said they were denied entry to World Cup stadiums and were called upon by the public to remove the decal.

Guide for groups: The US national soccer team, led by coach Gregg Berhalter and star striker Christian Pulisic, qualified for the 2022 World Cup, an improvement on the disastrous and unsuccessful 2018 campaign. Here’s an up-close look at how all the teams in each group are doing.

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