Canada underway against Belgium for 1st men’s World Cup match in 36 years

Canada is underway against Belgium for its first men’s World Cup match in 36 years.

Despite various injury question marks in the days leading up to the opener, both star forward Alphonso Davies and key midfielder Stephen Eustáquio were in coach John Herdman’s starting XI. Milan Borjan got the nod in net.

As Canadian players entered the field for warmups at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Drake’s Started From the Bottom blared throughout the venue — a fitting entrance for a squad many didn’t expect to be there in first place.

Canada last appeared on men’s soccer’s biggest stage in 1986, where it lost three straight games without so much as registering a goal.

But after placing first in regional CONCACAF qualifying ahead of the likes of the U.S., Mexico and Costa Rica, Canada is expected to do more damage this time around. Canada booked its ticket to Qatar with a 4-0 win over Jamaica in March in Toronto.

Armed with one of the world’s elite players in Davies, who shines in club play for Germany’s Bayern Munich, as well as Lille striker Jonathan David, the Canadian side possesses the skill to rattle more established opponents.

Drawn into Group F alongside No. 2 Belgium, No. 12 Croatia and No. 22 Morocco, the 41st-ranked Canadians have a challenging road to the knockout stage.

Earlier on Wednesday, Croatia and Morocco played to a scoreless draw.

Watch Soccer North live immediately following each of Canada’s games on CBC and the CBC Sports YouTube channel