Canada qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1986 courtesy of a brilliant run in their qualifying campaign. The Maple Leafs finished ahead of the USA and Mexico in the CONCACAF region, producing outstanding displays to defeat the USMNT and El Tri on home soil.
John Herdman now has the proud record of leading both Canada’s men and women into the World Cup, having previously guided the Canadian women’s team into the 2015 Women’s World Cup. The coach from County Durham, England has improved the fortunes of the Maple Leafs, ushering them up the world rankings. Herdman arguably has the most talent the Canadian national men’s team has ever had at their disposal, with the likes of Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David in the ranks. Impressively, Canada has outperformed two top-quality sides in the form of the States and Mexico to secure a spot in the 2022 World Cup.
It is perfect timing for bettors given the launching of Ontario sports betting sites in April 2022, following the ease of regulations in the region, which will allow bettors to lodge wagers on the Maple Leafs in the competition when it commences in Qatar towards the end of the year. Canada have been handed a tough draw in their group against 2018 finalists Croatia, Belgium along with Morocco.
Therefore, there will be value in their betting odds to qualify for the knockout stage. Herdman and his team have a tremendous work ethic and the ability to cause a shock as they have done against the top outfits in CONCACAF.
A lot will hinge on David’s performance in the final third. The 22-year-old has become a superstar in Ligue 1 for Lille, starring for the club in their push for the league title in the 2020/21 season. He has further enhanced his reputation as one of the top marksmen in Europe, and will only continue to improve.
David scored five goals during the third round of the qualifying campaign and his partnership with Cyle Larin will be crucial. Both players are capable of finding the net against any opposition. Chances will likely be sparse against Belgium and Croatia, so there will be pressure on the duo to display a clinical edge.
Davies’ big-game experience will be massive. Although he is only 21, Davies has won a Champions League and multiple Bundesliga crowns with Bayern Munich. He has become a vital player for Julian Nagelsmann down the left flank, but his importance to Canada has been reflected more in the final third than at the back.
Davies’ speed and quality with his deliveries in the box will make him a very difficult player to hold in check. He will not be deterred by the spotlight of the competition and his role as the Maple Leafs’ talisman. Canada fans and Herdman should expect great things from Davies at the tournament.
Canada produced a special run to get to the World Cup, but there’s no reason to believe that their journey should stop at the group stage. Belgium and Croatia are not infallible teams, with the former underwhelming in major tournaments and the latter coming to the end of their cycle with world-class talent. There could well be an opportunity for an exciting surge into the knockout stage for the Maple Leafs in Qatar.