Canada’s 2018 FIFA World Cup progress has continued through the Central American state of Belize after a 1-1 away draw on Tuesday night.
A goal from Will Johnson at the stroke of halftime levelled an earlier strike by Deon McCaulay for Belize. The teams wouldn’t score any more goals rest of the way, thanks largely to a massive save from Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan just prior to the final whistle.
The result gives Canada a 4-1 aggregate win over two legs (first leg below), sending the North Americans to the fourth round of CONCACAF (Canada’s region) qualifying for Russia 2018.
Now the opposition gets much tougher with Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador out to stop the Canadians. This phase is a round robin format, with the top two countries advancing to the final qualification stage – The Hexagonal or commonly ‘The Hex’ – where six teams play for three automatic World Cup spots, while the fourth goes to a playoff.
The Hex has a painful double meaning for Canada fans, as the country hasn’t reached this stage since trying to qualify for the 1998 World Cup. Canada’s last match in the final six was on November 16, 1997 in a 3-1 loss away to Costa Rica.
First leg: Canada 3-0 Belize
Canada is halfway to the fourth round of the CONCACAF region’s qualifying tournament for the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a 3-0 victory over Belize in Toronto on Friday.
The men’s team at Canada Soccer received goals from Tosaint Ricketts at the 25th and 65th minutes, and another from long time international player, captain and fan favourite Atiba Hutchinson in stoppage time to give Canada a decisive lead heading to the second leg in Belize next Tuesday.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup finals may be nearly three years away, but such is the size of the total competition that for smaller footballing nations qualification for a place in Russia have been underway for months.
Canada entered the qualification process in the second round with a 6-0 (on aggregate) thumping of tiny Caribbean nation, Dominica, over two matches home and away in June.