Canada is in the World Cup. Here’s what you need to know to cheer along

With less than two weeks until the start of the FIFA World Cup, Canada’s National Men’s Team is putting the finishing touches to preparations for a tournament that has been going on for 36 years.

The team had only qualified once before – in 1986 – which means a whole new generation of supporters are preparing to cheer on the national team as they enter football’s biggest tournament. world.

To help Canadians understand the path to a title win and who could possibly come out on top, CBC News has put together a guide for fans on the bandwagon, with everything you need to know about the beautiful game – and the odds. from Canada.

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Newbie to football, here! What basics should I know?

The World Cup takes place every four years. Canada is one of 32 teams after qualifying from its continental federation tournament.

Qatar hosts this year’s tournament (it’s controversial – more on that later) and will play the opening match against Ecuador on November 20.

The World Cup final is scheduled for December 18, with the winner taking the FIFA World Cup trophy.

In case you were wondering, there’s also a Women’s World Cup, taking place in Australia and New Zealand next July — and Canada will be playing there.

Al Thumama Stadium is pictured in Doha, Qatar on Tuesday. Qatar has spent tens of billions of dollars on new infrastructure for the World Cup. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

How does the contest work?

First, the group stage: The teams are separated into eight groups of four and will play each team in their own group once. There will be four games per day over a 12 day period.

At this stage, a win is worth three points, a draw is worth one and a loss zero points. The top two teams in each group – i.e. the teams with the most “points” – will advance to the knockout round.

The knockout round: The remaining 16 teams will play against different groups (for example, the first team in group A will face the second team in group B). Each losing team is eliminated from the tournament until the semi-finals, when four teams remain. Two will advance to the final, while the other two will play for third place.

Who is Canada playing against?

Canada is in Group F, so will face Belgium (Nov. 23), Croatia (Nov. 27) and Morocco (Dec. 1) in the group stage.

For those uninitiated in football, these are three tough clashes: Belgium are currently second in the FIFA men’s rankings, Croatia lost the 2018 World Cup final to France and Morocco remained undefeated in his qualifying race for the World Cup.

So we’re not going to win the World Cup?

Experts probably say no, but don’t let that put you off.

Don’t forget: this is the second World Cup in Canadian history. In 1986, the team lost all three games, without scoring.

The Canadian team sings the national anthem before a friendly match against Qatar in Vienna on September 23. (Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images)

“The benchmark of success, in some ways, is a goal… If they get a win, that would be huge,” said football writer Chris Jones, who will be in Qatar covering the World Cup for CBC Sports.

“If Canada leaves the group [stage]it’s unbelievable, like, this is our version of winning the World Cup.”

Who is likely to win, then?

Bookmakers are favoring Brazil to win the tournament, followed by Argentina, who have not hoisted the Cup since 1986.

France, champions in 2018, are the third favorite, followed by England, whose fans are praying for their first World Cup title since 1966.

Brazil is the bookmakers’ favorite to win the World Cup. Team captain Neymar is pictured in Rio de Janeiro on June 23, 2021. (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

Tell me about the Canadian team. Who should I name?

Star midfielder Alphonse Davies is one of the best young footballers in the world. Fans were concerned after the 22-year-old suffered a hamstring strain while playing for Bayern Munich over the weekend, but the German club told CBC News that Davies’ participation in the World Cup “is not in danger”.

Tajon BuchananMore, 23, is also a rising international star who plays for Club Brugge in the UEFA Champions League. “He’s a very exciting player. He’s a guy that opposing defenders hate to deal with because he’s so fast,” said football journalist John Molinaro, CBC contributor and founder of TFC Republic.

Captain Atiba Hutchinson overcomes a long injury to compete in his first World Cup. At 39, it will also be his last. “Emotionally, it will be fun to see him [play]”said Andi Petrillo, host of Soccer North on CBC Sports.

Also keep an eye on the defensive midfielder Stephen Eustaquio and forward Jonathan David who are both heading to Qatar after outstanding seasons in Europe. “If you were to place a bet on the Canadian who would score the first goal in World Cup history, I think Jonathan David is a very good bet,” Jones said.

WATCH | An update on Alphonso Davies’ injury:

Alphonso Davies injury update, Canada Soccer stars impress

Soccer North host Andi Petrillo tells you how Canada’s best fared around the world this week in ‘Keeping Up with the Canadians’.

You mentioned that there is controversy surrounding this World Cup. Tell me more?

There are several, including the heat, Qatar’s human rights record, Iran’s participation and, as has become the norm at the World Cup, allegations of corruption involving FIFA.

First, the heat: Expect to see players sweating in temperatures above 30°C. The tournament has been moved from June-July to November to keep it a bit cooler. But this change also means that many players come straight from European and North American football seasons, without a break to acclimatize to the heat.

“They’re probably going to be a little bit sloppier and slower, so to speak, in their game than if they were in some sort of perfect thermal situation,” said Professor Stephen Cheung, environmental stress expert on human physiology at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont.

A migrant worker sleeps on a bench outside the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on October 15. (Nariman El-Mofty/Associated Press)

This heat has also proven deadly for potentially thousands of migrant workers in Qatar, a figure disputed by the Qatari government, which brings us to another controversy: Qatar’s human rights record.

Same-sex relationships are criminalized in the host country, with LGBTQ+ people facing arbitrary arrests and abuse by security forces, Human Rights Watch said.

So there is Participation of Iran: In recent days, Ukraine and international activists have called on FIFA to ban Iran from participating due to its role as an arms supplier to Russia, as well as its crackdown on activists.

FIFA has reacted by telling teams to ‘focus on football’, rather than human rights issues, even as the football organization continues to be harassed by corruption allegations.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino recently wrote to the 32 teams taking part in the World Cup, urging them to “focus on football” rather than human rights issues in Qatar. Infantino is pictured in Managua, Nicaragua in August. (Inti Ocon/Associated Press)

The US Department of Justice alleges that FIFA officials received bribes in exchange for awarding Qatar hosting rights in 2010. This is just one of many such accusations brought against FIFA and its leaders in recent years.

Yeah. OKAY. Is there anything else I should watch out for?

Two big names in football are (probably) playing their last World Cup: Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

Neither has ever won the World Cup, so lifting the trophy in their final tournament would be a huge deal for either captain – and their country’s fans.

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, left, and Argentina’s Lionel Messi are likely to play their last World Cup. Neither has won the trophy in their career. (Albert Gea/Reuters)

Any tips for my World Cup viewing schedule?

You can check out the schedule so far here. Unfortunately for Canadian fans, World Cup kick-off times are between 5 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET, which could make it difficult to tune in during a work day (especially from a bar), unless your boss is also a soccer fan.

Finally, am I supposed to say soccer or football?

Although Canada, the United States and Australia call the game “soccer”, the World Cup is officially a “football” competition, and FIFA is short for Fédération Internationale de Football Association. You can keep calling it football if you want – just be prepared for fans of other teams to correct you.

Watch CBC Sports’ new Soccer North broadcast weekly on CBC Gem, and the CBC Sports YouTube channel. Hosted by Andi Petrillo, Soccer North brings Canadians closer to the most exciting soccer headlines happening on and off the pitch. Soccer North will be LIVE after all of Canada’s matches in Qatar.

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