How to watch and stream
- OneSoccer, Optik TV, fuboTV Canada
- Friday, Sept. 23 | 1 pm ET
- Generali Arena | Vienna, Austria
Canada are back in their first World Cup since 1986, snapping a 36-year qualification drought emphatically after topping Concacaf’s qualifying process ahead of Mexico, the United States and Costa Rica, the region’s three other qualifiers.
Group F games await, starting with a Nov. 23 contest against European powerhouse Belgium before meeting 2018 World Cup finalist Croatia (Nov. 27) and African side Morocco (Dec. 1).
To get squared away, head coach John Herdman’s team will play two more World Cup-bound nations beforehand: South America’s Uruguay (Sept. 27) to close this final FIFA window and Asian powerhouse Japan (Nov. 17) just before the quadrennial tournament gets underway.
Canada are coming off a tense June window, where a labor dispute between the players and federation saw two friendlies canceled before their Concacaf Nations League slate began with a 4-0 home defeat of Curacao and a 2-1 loss at Honduras.
That period still hangs over the program, but time necessitates Les Rouges building toward peak levels should they want to make noise in Qatar. Ranked No. 43 in FIFA’s last update, they’ll be a definite underdog.
For this camp, Canada’s core players of goalkeeper Milan Borjan (Red Star Belgrade), midfielder Stephen Eustáquio (Porto), forward Jonathan David (Lille) and superstar Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich) are all rearing to go.
With the unprecedented timing of a November/December World Cup, and teams expected to face injury absences amid/after a long club season, perhaps this gets Canada accustomed to what awaits.
Qatar, as the 2022 World Cup hosts, were an automatic qualifier. But they may have reached the tournament anyways after having won the AFC Asian Cup in 2019.
Led by Spanish coach Felix Sanchez, Qatar’s player pool mainly plays for a handful of teams in their Qatar Stars League (first division), namely Al-Sadd and Al-Duhail.
Qatar, who drew Concacaf side Jamaica 1-1 in August, are in Group A at the World Cup. Matches against Ecuador, the Netherlands and Senegal await, starting with the tournament opener on Nov. 20 at Al Bayt Stadium.