Canada is back at the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 36 years, and on Friday learned who they will get to play in their three group matches after they were drawn into Group F with Belgium, Morocco and Croatia.
This is only Canada's second appearance in total. They finished last in Group C in 1986, with a 1-0 loss to France and 2-0 defeats to Hungary and the Soviet Union in Mexico '86.
Who they drew
The clear favourite in the group, Belgium may nonetheless be a favourable draw from Pot 1, with some believing a Golden Generation of Red Devils football is in its autumn.
- FIFA World Ranking: 2
- How they got here: 1st place, UEFA Group E
- Key players: Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Christian Benteke, Eden Hazard
- World Cup history: Alongside the Netherlands, Belgium is perhaps the most prolific footballing nation never to win a World Cup. And this might be their last chance, with most of the biggest names of their own generation either approaching or on the other side of 30 years old. Their best-ever finish came in 2018, when they placed third after losing to eventual champions France in the semifinals.
The African qualifiers from Pot 3 are in back to back World Cups for the first time since 1994 and 1998.
- FIFA World Ranking: 24
- How they got here: 1st place, CAF Group I. Won playoff over DR Congo 5-2 on aggregate.
- Key players: Archaf Hakimi, Azzedine Ounahi, Sofyan Amrabat, Selim Amallah
- World Cup history: Morocco first arrived at the World Cup in Mexico in 1970, but have been inconsistent qualifiers out of Africa and have only advanced past the group stage once in six appearances, in 1986. Ironically, three of those appearance have come in the Americas, as they were also a part of Mexico '86 and USA '94.
The 2018 World Cup darlings after their unexpected run to the final, Croatia may again fancy their chances at a deep run given their draw from Pot 2.
- FIFA World Ranking: 16
- How they got here: 1st place, UEFA Group H
- Key players: Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Andrej Kramaric, Mario Pasalic
- World Cup history: It's hard to forget their run to the 2018 final, but Croatia have actually played tournament darlings twice after reaching the semifinals in 1998. That was their first qualification cycle as a FIFA member after the break up of the former Yugoslavia. They've qualified for four of five World Cups since, but 2018 was only their second foray into the knockout phase.
When they’ll play
Game 1: vs. Belgium, Nov. 23
Game 2: vs. Croatia, Nov. 27
Game 3 vs. Morocco, Dec. 1
CanMNT's path to Qatar 2022
After winning all six of its preliminary qualifiers to play its way into Concacaf's eight-team final qualifying round-robin, Canada finished atop "The Octagonal," ahead of Mexico on goal difference.
In the process, they took 19 of 21 points at home, winning their home games to take 4 of 6 points each from the United States and Mexico.
World Cup schedule
Rather than being held in the summer, the quadrennial event is being held during November and December. Qatar 2022 will be contested at eight stadiums across five cities.
The schedule breakdown is below:
- Group stage: Nov. 21 to Dec. 2
- Round of 16: Dec. 3-6
- Quarterfinals: Dec. 9-10
- Semifinals: Dec. 13-14
- Third place: Dec. 17
- Final: Dec. 18