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Full preview as Canada faces Belgium in World Cup

It is time for followers to do what head coach John Herdman requested and commerce their European or South American soccer jerseys for Canadian ones as the lads’s nationwide crew returns to the World Cup for the primary time since 1986.

Drawn in Group F, Herdman will lead Canada in opposition to Belgium in its group stage opener on Wednesday earlier than taking up Croatia and Morocco.

Right here is every thing you must know forward of the monumental conflict in Qatar.

ALPHONSO DAVIES FULLY FIT

Canadian followers can breathe an enormous sigh of aid on the eve of its first World Cup sport in 36 years after Herdman confirmed star participant Alphonso Davies is again to full health.

The Bayern Munich defender picked up a hamstring harm on Nov. 5 and has been unavailable ever since.

Davies performs in each assault and protection, typically floating across the pitch because of his whirlwind velocity, is an important chief within the squad and notably the face of Canada’s crew following his spectacular rise in Europe.

The query now’s whether or not the 22-year-old will reintegrate seamlessly, having been sidelined for two-and-a-half weeks.

On Tuesday, Herdman admitted Davies, in addition to beforehand injured Stephen Eustaquio (who pulls the strings in midfield for Canada), are each anticipated to start out in opposition to Belgium.

Beginning goalkeeper Milan Borjan can also be set to function after choosing up an belly problem. This information is important for Canada’s protection as second-choice goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau shouldn’t be in Qatar after breaking his leg earlier this month.

KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH

Canada’s first conflict in Group F is arguably the hardest, arising in opposition to second-ranked Belgium. Even with its “Golden Technology” ageing, that doesn’t imply you possibly can write the Europeans off.

Actual Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois, the reigning Yashin Trophy winner for greatest goalkeeper, shall be troublesome for the likes of go-to forwards Cyle Larin and Jonathan David to beat. Canada should additionally nullify Manchester Metropolis midfielder Kevin De Bruyne who is anticipated to dictate ball management.

Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku, nonetheless, is not going to function within the match after not totally recovering from harm, as confirmed by Belgium’s head coach Roberto Martinez on Tuesday. Actual Madrid ahead Eden Hazard, in the meantime, will captain the aspect and begin the match.

Then in case you’re a brand new soccer fan because of Canada’s spectacular qualification for Qatar, the notable names to control are Davies, Eustaquio, Larin and David, in addition to defenders Alistair Johnston and Sam Adekugbe on the wings, plus the management of captain Atiba Hutchinson in midfield.

FORM RECORD

Heading into the conflict, Canada has two wins, one draw and two losses from its final 5 video games. Probably the most notable consequence was a 2-1 win over Twenty fourth-ranked Japan as the ultimate preparation match heading into Qatar.

Belgium, in the meantime, additionally has two wins, one draw and two losses to its identify. Notably, each defeats have been from its ultimate two preparation video games heading into Qatar in opposition to the Netherlands and Egypt.

ALL EYES ON THE REFEREE

The person with the whistle between Belgium and Canada shall be referee Janny Sikazwe.

The 43-year-old from Zambia officiated throughout the 2018 World Cup however is most not too long ago identified for controversial occasions throughout an Africa Cup of Nations match in January.

Sikazwe blew the full-time whistle after solely 85 minutes as an alternative of 90 after which blew early once more within the 89th minute, seeing the match finish prematurely.

PATHWAY TO THE KNOCKOUTS

Canada should end in one of many high two spots in Group F to maneuver to the knockouts, which is able to show to be a troublesome check.

Incomes three factors with a win or one with a draw in opposition to Belgium would considerably increase Canada’s hope for survival.

But even with a loss, the Forty first-ranked aspect might nonetheless transfer on relying on later outcomes. In previous tournaments, groups have reached the knockouts with solely 4 factors complete.

The World Cup is commonly huge open with upsets galore (as seen Tuesday when 51st-ranked Saudi Arabia surprised third-ranked Argentina). Really something can occur in Group F.

WHAT ARE THE EXPECTATIONS FOR CANADA?

An extended 36-year wait to return to the Males’s World Cup is sort of over, and a rustic filled with soccer followers – new or previous – shall be glued to the display watching Herdman’s aspect attempt to pull off the unthinkable.

Talking in pre-match press conferences, the top coach and gamers stated they won’t shrink back from the stress and as an alternative do what they do greatest; play their sport the best way they know they’ll.

Ahead Ike Ugbo and defender Steven Vitoria particularly highlighted the squad’s want to be revered on the world’s largest stage whereas Herdman insisted it is a new awakening for Canada proper now.

The one factor followers can be careful for shall be Canada’s first-ever aim on the males’s World Cup. Through the 1986 version of the match, the crew failed to attain in all three matches.

If this new era can put the ball within the web in opposition to the second-best aspect on the earth on Wednesday and doubtlessly maintain its personal in its first World Cup conflict in 36 years, it’d kickstart a historic week of soccer.

HOW TO WATCH

Forward of the match, CTV and TSN could have a particular three-hour preview starting at 11 am EST/8 am PST.

The sport formally kicks off at 2 pm EST/11 am PST.

Watch the matches dwell on CTV and TSN.

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