'F--- Croatia next': Canada proves they 'belong' on World Cup stage as Herdman seeks response
The Canadian men's national team kicked off their 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign with a blistering performance vs. Belgium, but could not find the back of the net in an eventual 1-0 loss, a result that manager John Herdman believes sent a clear message to the rest of the world: Canada belongs.
The CanMNT tactician said as much following his team's first foray in this tournament in 36 years, telling reporters: "I just told (the players) they belong here, and we're going to go and 'F' Croatia next. It's as simple as that."
He continued: "That's our next mission now. I told them that I lost my first game at the London 2012 Olympics, and (the CanWNT) went on to win our first medal in 86 years. So it's how we respond now. With that belief, and if we keep the brotherhood tight, we have a chance."
Those choice words come after Canada put up a dominant display, with an Alphonso Davies penalty saved by Thibaut Courtois all but sparing Belgium's blushes in this Group F opener.
"We didnt play well enough as a team," star attacker Kevin De Bruyne admitted after the match. "I do not know why I won man of the match ... maybe because of my name?
"Credit to Canada; we could not get through their press. We did not play a good game today – me included – but we found a way to win."
Red Devils boss Roberto Martinez echoed the sentiment, offering: "We won, so it is not the worst (performancce), but technically, yes, this is the worst we have played.
"Huge respect to Canada. They did very well."
The final stats for the #CanMNT today:— Alexandre Gangué-Ruzic (@AlexGangueRuzic) November 23, 2022
Shots on target: 🇨🇦3-3🇧🇪
Shots in box:🇨🇦18-6🇧🇪
Big chances: 🇨🇦3-1🇧🇪
If they keep those sort of numbers up, and get more shots on target, that WC goal drought will end very soon for them
While a result against Belgium was never assured, Canadian fans would be right to feel their side missed a huge opportunity at their own World Cup surprise, as Belgium rarely threatened.
"This tournament is all about getting three points," Davies said after the match. "Playing the 2nd-best team in the world is not easy, but we came out here, did our best, and showed we belong on this stage."
"I know it's fair to say that we deserved more today," defender Steven Vitoria added. "This is the image that we want to leave, but we want to leave it with points, with wins."
A disappointing result against a top team in the World Cup. we got two more games to go, we go again on Sunday!— Alphonso Davies (@AlphonsoDavies) November 24, 2022
Thank you to all the fans for their support!🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/fpNQmxTuH9
"We played our heart out today and we showed the world what we're capable of," said Junior Hoilett. "We went out there fearless, with a lot of courage and bravery."
Canada will now look to take those feelings into Sunday's second match-up against Croatia, and will look to get their first-ever World Cup goal against a team that just blanked Morocco 0-0 to open their own campaign.
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