Canada is on its way to only second World Cup qualification

Canada forward Tajon Buchanan gave El Tri fits in their Gold Cup match-up back in July, a game Mexico won in overtime. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
Canada forward Tajon Buchanan gave El Tri fits in their Gold Cup match-up back in July, a game Mexico won in overtime. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images) /
Tajon Buchanan #11 of Canada celebrates a goal his goal with teammates during a 2022 World Cup qualifying match against El Salvador. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Canada is on the cusp of second World Cup classification

Let’s not pretend anyone saw this coming. Canada has surprised everyone in these World Cup qualifiers. With four games to go, the Northerners top the CONCACAF standings with 22 points, the result of six wins and four draws. The USMNT and Mexico trail with 18 points each.

On the Road to Qatar, Canada has gone unbeaten since the first round. The Canucks managed to lead Group B by winning out against Suriname, Bermuda, Aruba and Cayman Islands with a stunning 27 goals scored and only one conceded.

Now in the final round, the Canadians not only lead the standings, but they’ve beaten the top two teams — something that had only happened once before. In the 1976 CONCACAF qualifying rounds, the Canadians beat both Mexico and the USA.

They beat Mexico 1-0 on October 10 in Vancouver, the last time Canada had defeated Mexico in a qualifier until this season.

After finishing level on points and goal difference with the USMNT, a play-off on neutral ground was played to decide who would advance to the final round. Canada would go on to beat the U.S. 3-0 on December 22 in Haiti. Unfortunately, Canada ended up the fourth seed and missed the World Cup.

The last time they managed to win against the USA in a qualifier was in1980 when they won 2-1 with goals from Robert Iarusci and Branimir “Branko” Šegota (via penalty). They finished in fourth in the final round and once again missed the World Cup.

Canada is looking  to end a drought of 36 years of missing the World Cup. The Reds managed to win the 1985 CONCACAF Championship en route to Mexico ’86. That year, a total of 18  teams competed for only one spot available to a CONCACAF team (as host, Mexico was automatically qualified).

After qualifying over Jamaica, Canada went on to lead Group 2 over Guatemala and Haiti, earning their ticket to the final round. They would end up winning two games against Honduras and tying the other two against Costa Rica. The six points would be enough to win the championship and qualify to the World Cup.

Canada has four games left to play but they can clinch a World Cup berth in early March. On Feb, 2, the Canucks fly to El Salvador for the last game of the current FIFA break, a team they already beat 3-0 and against whom they haven’t lost in a qualifier since 1997.

In March, they’ll travel to Costa Rica, host Jamaica and finish the tournament away against Panama.

Canada versus El Salvador preview. dark. Next

Unless something goes absolutely wrong, Canada will be joining the 14 teams that have  already secured invitations to Qatar 2022. And since they’ll be co-hosting the 2026 tournament, they’d be ensured of playing in back-to-back World Cups for the first time ever.