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The Canadian Men’s National Team’s World Cup hopes were ended with a 4-1 defeat to Croatia on Sunday but there’s still plenty to play for in their final game against Morocco, according to Atiba Hutchinson.
Following a brave and impressive, but ultimately fruitless 1-0 defeat to Belgium in their Group F opener – the CanMNT’s first World Cup match since 1986 – Les Rouges shocked Croatia with Alphonso Davies scoring their first-ever World Cup goal to take the lead inside two minutes.
Canada tried their best to press home the advantage, but an experienced and supremely talented Croatian side quickly got to grips with the game and pushed their opponents back. A 4-1 final scoreline was, perhaps, harsh, but the 2018 runners-up were good value for their victory.
The result means Canada now cannot qualify for the knockout rounds regardless of how they get on against Morocco in their final match. However, there is still plenty of history John Herdman’s side could make before they leave Qatar.
“We’ll learn from this and we have another game five days from now. We want to finish on a good note. We haven’t had any points on the board in a World Cup. So, we want to finish with three points and kind of hold our heads up after,” said team captain Hutchinson, who became the first CanMNT player to reach 100 caps on Sunday.
Experienced winger Junior Hoilett agreed with his captain’s sentiment, also highlighting how important it was for many of the nation’s younger players, such as the impressive Davies, Jonathan David, and Tajon Buchanan, to gain World Cup experience ahead of co-hosting the tournament in 2026.
“A tough game for us [Sunday against Croatia], a tough result. We showed a lot of character and we fought until the very end. In the end, we’re disappointed with it, but we’ve got a lot of positives that we can take from our last two games,” Hoilett told TSN.
He added: “Getting that feel for what it takes to be in a World Cup. We have to hold our heads high. We showed a lot of heart there today and we just have to take the positives out. We still have one more game to go, to go and get the result not only for us, but for the nation and for our families.”
In a moment of reflection, head coach Herdman was able to see the positives in a difficult night, not least finally allowing CanMNT supporters to celebrate a World Cup goal.
If nothing else, Canada have proved they belong.
“A lot of pride in that performance,” said Herdman. “I thought in moments they showed they could compete on the world stage. Obviously to score our first goal and have that moment with the fans knowing that back home, east to west, that people were celebrating somewhere. It was a great moment.”
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