Canadian Men’s National Team head coach John Herdman believes his players must experience more games against ‘big nations’ if they’re to stand a chance of competing at the 2026 World Cup.
Les Rouges were sent home from Qatar after three defeats against Belgium, Croatia, and Morocco. However, they were able to score their first-ever World Cup goals and came agonizingly close to securing a point against the latter. Meanwhile, their performance in a 1-0 loss to Belgium will live long in the memory.
Attention now turns to Canada’s preparations for the 2026 World Cup, where they’ll co-host alongside the United States and Mexico. But before then, with the CanMNT still awaiting their first-ever victory at the tournament, the quality of opposition must improve. Expectations will be much higher in four years.
“We have to play big nations – big games and feel what it’s like to be under the pressure of these quality players,” Herdman said in a CBC interview, adding: “We needed more games against that type of opponent. One error [can] lead to real punishment. I think we needed to feel some of that punishment prior to coming into the World Cup and we hadn’t.”
Alongside improving the quality of their opposition, Herdman is looking to take a leaf out of the United States’ book by focusing on recruiting more dual-nationals to swell the Canadian ranks and add even more quality.
“We laid the foundation for 2026 and for now, the next quadrennial is about really pushing hard to recruit those players that are on the bubble, on the dual-passports,” Herdman said. “We gave them a reason to believe that Canada can compete now and that we are a football nation.”
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