Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar
Canada were taught a hard lesson as they lost 1-0 to Belgium in their first World Cup game in 36 years on Wednesday.
Despite their dominance, Canada failed to score the goal they deserved and were frustrated when Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois saved Alphonso Davies’ first-half penalty.
The Canadians had 14 shots on the Belgium goal in the first 45 minutes alone but failed to find the target on a frustrating night at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.
Belgium reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and the European team made Canada pay for their waste.
Against the flow of play, Michy Batshuayi put his side ahead in the first half after the striker chased down a long pass.
Canada continued to create chances in the second half but just couldn’t find a breakthrough.
The entire Canada squad huddled in the center of the pitch after the game while the Belgium players celebrated with their fans.
There must have been a sense of disbelief considering Canada hadn’t made the most of an impressive performance and the frustration was on their faces.
Despite the defeat, Canada looked like a team that deserves to be on the world stage and can be proud to scare the second-placed team in the world.
The performance was clearly appreciated by the thousands of Canadian fans who made the long journey to Doha. The fans stayed put and cheered their team as the players finally stomped off the pitch.
Before a ball was kicked at Qatar 2022, midfielder Jonathan Osorio said his team-mates wouldn’t be content with just making up the numbers and that much was clear against Belgium.
However, Canada need to start picking up points and there is now little room for error in the remaining Group F games against Croatia and Morocco, who drew 0-0 earlier on Wednesday.
“They showed tonight that they belong here, it’s been a while since we’ve been back and our fans have been brilliant,” Canada coach John Herdman told reporters after the game, before sharing his words in the team’s roundtable end revealed the game.
“I was passionate about circles. I was proud, really proud to see us represented. I think that was a big step for this country.”
Herdman also praised Davies for having the character to step up and execute the penalty, which was easily saved by Courtois.
“It’s a big moment for any player to do that, you carry the weight of the nation. Really proud that he picked up the ball, it takes a special player for that,” said Herdman.
Belgium midfielder Kevin De Bruyne was named player of the match, a decision that surprised both Herdman and the Manchester City star.
“I didn’t play well, maybe I got it because of my name,” De Bruyne told reporters.
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez, who was locked in passionate conversations with De Bruyne throughout the game, congratulated Canada on their performance but said his side had just “found a way to win”.
“Today we grew as a team, but we have to be self-critical and improve over the next few days,” Martinez told reporters after the game.
In their two World Cup matches in Group E, Spain beat Costa Rica 7-0 in Group E while Japan stunned Germany with a 2-1 win from behind.