How do you sum up Canada vs Morocco? It was so damn close.
Had Canada been able to mount its offensive earlier, it could’ve tired out Morocco’s defence and it would’ve only needed maybe once or twice for them to slip up and Canada would’ve been one or two goals up.
Morocco held the game tight to their chest and were refusing Canada’s attempts but it maybe have only been a matter of time before the Atlas Lions landed on a thorn.
That offensive push in the second half was commendable by Canada by why were aerial attacks the favoured option? The goals were daisy cutters in comparison.
Mistakes were made and fouls were committed. Borjan’s mistake at the beginning of the game will haunt him. While he paid dearly for it, he certainly made sure Canada wasn’t going to concede with such mistakes again.
Did Canada learn something from Croatia? Croatians are tactically aggressive and fouling while not the most sportsmanlike, is often how to slow down or kill an attack. We’re not saying we condone it, but it looked like Canada were trying something.
Canada was not going further than this game but boy were they going to give us a lasting impression. They wanted to make history.
No sooner that the game got under way, both teams were feeling eachother, taking shots at goal. Sadly, Morocco’s most successful attempt on goal comes off of a mistake by Milan Borjan within the first 5 minutes.
A poor pass by the keeper gets intercepted by one of Morocco’s prized forwards, Hakim Ziyech, who swoops into take the ball and deliver it to the back of the Canadian net. Morocco is now up 1 – 0.
The next 20 minutes pass with Canada trying to recoup its defence and get a shot off with Tajon Buchanan. Morocco trying to line up another strike on Canada’s goal. We’re also seeing dangerous play committed by the likes of Junior Hoilett and Cyle Larin and while the latter gets off with a warning, Hoilett gets a Yellow.
The Moroccans look more organised, building an attack with short passes which do actually pay off when Youssef En Nesyri takes a shot from the edge of Canada’s box. He sends it into the bottom right corner and makes it 2 – 0.
More disappointment from the Canada team unleashes and Osorio gets a well-deserved Yellow for his tackle.
Bad luck for Morocco and a free goal is delivered to Canada as a poor pass is deflected by Nayef Aguerd and into the Moroccan goal. One of the Moroccan objectives to protect its clean sheet has failed so that would be one saving grace for Les Rouges.
It could’ve been 3 for Morocco in extra time but the shot from Youssef En Nesyri gets ruled out as he’s offside.
The Second Half starts and it looks like Canada received another talking to by Herdman. By the 56th minute mark, they seem to be getting into the game, gathering possession and waiting for their moment to strike.
Davies takes a Free Kick but it fails to reach anyone and a further shot to Davies from Hoilett goes well wide. Hoilett goes down with an injury.
Herdman makes some substitutions bringing on David, Hutchinson and Kone to replace Larin, Kaye and Adekugbe.
Canada are starting to test Morocco’s defence. Some pundits saying this negative possession for Morocco’s opponents but this is how gaps are found.
The 71st minute rolls round and Canada have a Free Kick. Davies takes it but it’s put out of play for a corner. Canada is getting as many bodies into the box as possible.
A chance arises as the corner moves in line with Hutchinson’s head and he rises to meet it. Only the crossbar gets the brunt.
A rebound lands for Johnston who heads it from inside the 6-yard box only for it to finally go over the crossbar and out of play.
The Canadian offensive continued and the Moroccans are now on the defensive trying to protect their lines. Hoilett sends a corner shot on to the dangerzone but the defence knock it out. Hoilett then proceeds to take a corner but the defence clear again.
Morocco were already on the offensive with a cross from Hakim Ziyech, who would prove to be a standout act throughout the game.
The minutes tick and Canada is starting to the feel this game slip. They’re bossing possession but they just can’t find a gap wide enough to slip through. The aerial shots are proving useless against Morocco’s defence.
Four minutes of extra time and Canada still can’t find a path to goal. The final whistle blows, Canada is out, Morocco cheers.
When the opening ceremony of the 2026 World Cup bursts rolls around, how will Canada’s efforts at the 2022 World Cup be viewed?
With negativity, disdain, embarrassment even? Perhaps 4 years will have passed so fast, and Canada’s team will have more experience and built on the important lessons learned in the past week. Added to that, they’ll also have the advantage of automatic qualification being that they’re a joint host.
We’re in the immediate aftermath of Canada dropping out of the World Cup again. What can we say about that? They didn’t do too badly really. For a nation that’s been absent from this level of football in 36 years, they have have played three very different games, shown three very different emotions and have matured throughout each game.
Canada didn’t win any of their games and didn’t ultimately go through to the knock-out stage, which would be history in of itself, but they triumphed in a different way you could say.
They had a tough group composed of two of the World’s top ranked teams Croatia (15th) and Belgium (11th) and Morocco (22nd). There have been quite a few surprises in the Group stages, even in Group F.
Belgium looked incredibly weak, Croatia looks angry and frustrated. Morocco? I think we can all say that they were a surprise to all who played them. Canada? They are the team which had much to prove both to themselves and to the world.
Four years to build
Let’s conclude this Iliad of a blog with words from Canada’s coach John Herdman.
When asked if he would moving on to pastures new, with a great opportunity like a European club in the sun, sea and dolce vita, he said… no I’m staying.
‘I’m the most passionate coach I think, in the country and I love this job, love the boys… love the experience,” Herdman said. “My contract’s been signed until 2026… we’ll be back. I’ll be back fighting… and now I can take that experience into the next four years.’