Bereft A Touch

Canada returned to the football World Cup after a period of 36 years in 2022. Their path to qualifying electrified the country and Canadians were captivated by the tear they went on through CONCACAF going 14 matches without a loss. The excitement ratcheted up to fever pitch leading up to their opener in Qatar against powerhouses Belgium. And then…

A few hours later…

It is easy to say Canada were fantastic today…they were! To recognize how much relentless pressure they exerted on their football-world recognized rivals…they did! And how unfazed they were from the get go in such a high pressure expectation-loaded moment…they honestly were ridiculously composed and organized all through the game given the caliber of the global giants they were facing in Belgium.

A lot will be written about (rightfully, I admit) how ragged they ran Belgium. How relentless and focused they were…they were indeed. For a team in such uncharted territory in their lives, they were so unfazed.

The missed penalty by Davies didn’t cause a blip or misstep. (Those who claim Davies was deflated after it – with all due respect, he honestly looked a tad uncooked all through. Match fitness for a turbo-charged engine like him can’t be conjured up instantly.)

Why he even took the kick and how bad it was will be discussed to death. But in the end, it just was not the reason to blame for Canada to lose the game.

They lost it in the box at Belgium’s end. They lost it to hesitant touches a split second too late, to crosses that sailed over the awaiting heads, to horribly wasted corners that wafted into nowhere land…to passes that hiccupped at the worst moment with Courtois frozen on the goal line…so many chances that evaporated after so much hard work and smart play…

Tomorrow, the narrative will be how great they were on so unfamiliar a world stage. Facing such a storied and respected opponent. How proud they did themselves and Canada by their wonderful performance. I would never begrudge this special team any of that credit.

But it is just agonizing regret I feel now in the aftermath of the match. Of how close they were. Of how much of a panic they caused in the opponents who were expected to roll over them. How many moments were squandered at the end of superb efforts. How many giveaways just one touch away from a shot on goal. The finish that never came. It just seemed out of reach…all through…

What they did today just reinforces the potential in this ridiculously young (Hutchinson aside), superbly coached and loaded with promise side. But the night still leaves me with what they missed out on…what they stumbled over at the last second…the pass that was one beat too late on rhythm…how agonizingly close they were…

Croatia will know what is coming on Sunday. Belgium certainly know what they dodged today…

All Canada needs to internalize is what Croatia and Belgium already have.

We Canadians can just relish this ride..

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