Canada rout Jamaica to end 36-year World Cup drought

Published March 29, 2022
CANADIAN players celebrate their victory over Jamaica that clinched qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.—Reuters
CANADIAN players celebrate their victory over Jamaica that clinched qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.—Reuters

TORONTO: Cyle Larin, Tajon Buchanan and Junior Hoilett scored as Canada qualified for the World Cup finals for just the second time on Sunday, beating Jamaica 4-0 to book their ticket to Qatar and end 36 years of failure and heartache.

“Speechless. Dream come true,” midfielder Jonathan Osorio said. “We all dreamed of this as little kids, and as a Canadian that was impossible. Today the impossible happened. It’s an incredible feeling.”

Canada missed out a chance to secure a spot in Qatar last week with a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica. It was Canada’s first loss in three World Cup qualifying rounds and it snapped a six-game winning streak.

Boosted by the home crowd at BMO Filed, Canada rebounded in a big way against the Jamaicans, who were already eliminated from World Cup contention.

Following the match the fans broke into the Canadian national anthem and Osorio led the crowd for a drum chant before the team danced on the field. Buchanan circled the field waving Canadas flag.

Canada coach John Herdman became the first coach ever to lead both a men’s and women’s team to a World Cup berth. He coached the Canadian women’s team from 2011-18.

In a post-game interview Herdman was doused with champagne by Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

“Canada is a football nation, man. We better believe it,” Herdman said. “And we’re going to keep coming. We’ve only gotten started.”

While Canada celebrated, Mexico and the United States will have to wait to learn their fate despite picking up wins along with Costa Rica, who also kept their Qatar hopes alive.

The United States got a hat-trick from Chelsea midfielder Christian Pulisic as they romped to a 5-1 home win over Panama while Mexico needed a 70th minute goal from Edson Alvarez to win 1-0 and avoid a humiliating draw with winless Honduras.

The victory for Canada puts the leaders on 28 points in the CONCACAF qualifying group, three points ahead of the United States and Mexico.

Costa Rica won 2-1 at El Salvador to maintain fourth place with 22 points and prevent the US from being able to clinch on Sunday night. Anthony Contreras scored on a bicycle kick in the 30th minute, Christian Gil tied the score one minute later and Joel Campbell put the Ticos ahead in the first minute of first-half stoppage time.

The top three teams earn automatic places in November’s World Cup with the fourth-place finisher facing an Oceania team in an intercontinental playoff for another berth.

Mexico will host El Salvador on Wednesday, the United States travel to San Jose to take on Costa Rica and Canada wrap up their campaign against Panama. Both Mexico and the United States require only a draw to seal an automatic berth.

After failing to clinch a finals spot away to Costa Rica, Canada returned home with renewed purpose and a chance to complete the job in front of a frenzied, red-clad, flag-waving, sold-out crowd of nearly 30,000 at BMO Field.

Larin put Canada in front early with his team-leading 13th goal of the qualifying tournament. He had another clear chance in the 38th minute but the ball went just wide.

Larin is one goal behind Ali Mabkhout of the United Arab Emirates for most goals in qualifying for Qatar.

Buchanan scored in the 44th, celebrating with a backflip, to put Canada up 2-0 going into the break.

Hoilett added the final goal in the 82nd and an own goal in the 88th to round out scoring.

“I’m just so pleased we didn’t win in Costa Rica,” said Herdman. “This is how it was meant to be, I know why the football gods wouldn’t let us score, it was for tonight.

Canada will play at the World Cup for the first time since 1986 in Mexico, where they lost all three games and failed to score a goal.

“We’ve been through some tough times,” Herdman said. “I’ve knocked on doors to ask for money for this team, and we did it. And we just kept believing. I think this country never believed in us because we’ve given them nothing to believe in. They believe now. This is the time for everyone to get behind football and unite because we can be a powerhouse.”

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2022

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