- Advertisement -spot_img
Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Canada’s men look to return to World Cup 37 years after historic win at St. John’s

San Jose, Costa Rica, is a long way from St. John’s, NL, but the two could be intertwined forever if Canada beat Costa Ricans on Thursday to qualify for World Cup qualification.

Canada made it to the men’s football showcase for only the second time in Mexico 1986, thanks to a victory over Honduras in the final of the 1985 CONCACAF Championship.

At the time, both Canadian and Honduran players wondered what they were doing at The Rock – in the modest surroundings of King George V Park, about 4,900 kilometers northeast of the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa.

“We thought ‘What is the Canadian Soccer Association doing to put this biggest game Canada has ever played in Newfoundland?'” said captain Bruce Wilson. “It was an outdoor park, to begin with.

“Before the game, we got there and we were training and preparing and going ‘Where are we at?’ And we can’t believe it, to be honest.”

But the madness had a way.

Fellow defender Bob Lenarduzzi credits then-coach Tony Vetters and CSA president Jim Fleming with following other CONCACAF nations to maximize the benefits of playing at home.

Getting to St. John’s was a challenge. Some Honduran fans who never made it, accidentally landed in St. John, NB, where they had to watch the game on TV.

And the locals made the Canadian team feel like kings.

“By the time we got there, when we had won the game and celebrated that night and left the next day, the pride of the Newfoundlanders was evident,” Lenarduzzi said.

It is not clear how many people were in King George V Park that afternoon. While Canada Soccer listed the crowd at 7,500 and the CBC called it “7,500-plus, the Canadian Encyclopedia puts it at over 13,000 strong.

Whatever the number, they were loud and proud.

Wilson, now 70, says the event was packed with flag-waving supporters 90 minutes before the start.

“At the end of the day it wasn’t a huge crowd, but I’m going to tell you that when we got on the field, it was 100 percent Canadian and they actually put us ahead of a goal before the game started. . . ” Wilson said. “It was a wonderful atmosphere.”

“The other team didn’t know where they were,” he said. “And we got really rich.”

Canada needed a tie or win to qualify to enter the game.

“Canada’s oldest city will act as the host of its most important football game,” CBC’s Steve Armitage said before kickoff.

“(Newfoundland’s) people and buildings have withstood many Atlantic hurricanes and survived them all,” he said, “that what now makes Newfoundlanders so special is the warm hospitality and generosity of Team Canada on the final of the long march to Mexico. will be implemented as phases have been taken.”

It was 11°C cloudy at kickoff. The field looked like a grass saw with a variety of colors and coverages.

George Pakos put Canada ahead in a thrilling 16th minute play from Karl Valentin’s Corner. Ian Bridges acrobatically gave the ball his head and it took a defender in the way of an opportunistic Pakos, who swung it with his right foot.

A 21-year-old Randy Samuel came to Canada’s defense later in the half when Wilson’s attempt at a clearing header went over the head of goalkeeper Tino Letieri and into the open Canadian goal. But Samuel, who earned 82 caps for Canada, came back just in time to secure the ball.

Armando Betancourt tied it in the 49th, when a Honduran teammate beat two Canadians on the flank and sent the ball into the penalty box. Betancourt, who died last July due to reports of COVID complications at the age of 63, cleverly sculpted the ball, pivoted and beat Letieri from close range with a left-footed shot.

Lenarduzzi said, “I think when they were tied, the heart started shaking a little bit.”

Igor Vrblik sealed the deal in the 61st minute from another Valentine’s corner. The ball was flicked from the near post to Wrblick, who was Johnny-on-the-spot. The 20-year-old overtook a defender to swing a leg and redirect the ball through the door.

At the last whistle, fans thronged the ground to celebrate.

“A great team effort by Canada and they didn’t break through the back door,” said CBC color commentator Graham Leggett. “They beat defending champions CONCACAF 2-1 here at St. John’s … a scintillating performance.”

“Now it will be Canada’s turn,” said Armitage. “The moment that football fans across the country have been waiting for so many years – 28 years.”

“Canadian football is finally on the map,” said CBC’s Katherine Wright in reporting on the historic victory.

It was not the only World Cup qualifier on tap that day. After the historic football win, CBC’s SportsWeekend went on to Canada’s 10-pin bowling championship in Toronto with a berth in another World Cup, this one on the line in South Korea.

Back in St. John’s, the ceremony lasted long into the night.

“They gave the Canadian players the keys to the city. They could go to any restaurant, any establishment and eat whatever else they wanted for free,” Wilson said.

“It was incredible … you can imagine it would be a very late night after the game and we had an early flight. Some of us were getting on the plane straight away,” said Lenarduzzi, now 66.

Qualifying for the 1986 World Cup came at a difficult time. With the league folding in 1984, the glory years of the North American Soccer League were over.

Wilson, who played in the NASL for the Vancouver Whitecaps, Chicago Sting, New York Cosmos and Toronto Blizzards, called the NASL “a big training ground for the national team”.

The waiters offered Wilson, who was without a club, an ambassador-type position for Canadian Soccer so that he could focus on the national team.

Then 29 With a growing family, Lenarduzzi considered leaving after the NASL turned. But the Whitecaps star was persuaded to play indoor soccer in nearby Tacoma.

He recalls flying to Tacoma to play Canada’s opening qualifying game – a 2–0 win over Haiti – in Victoria in the afternoon and then scoring for the indoor Stars that night.

Colombia was originally to host the 1986 World Cup, but withdrew in 1983 due to financial issues and instability in the country. Canada, Brazil, Mexico and the United States all expressed interest in taking over the hosting responsibility, but the FIFA Executive Committee voted unanimously for Mexico after Brazil pulled out.

Only one World Cup berth was up for grabs in North and Central America and the Caribbean with hosts Mexico guaranteed a spot in the 24-team field.

Seventeen teams began CONCACAF qualification with Guatemala receiving a bye. The remaining 16 teams were paired for knockout matches on a home and away basis, with the winners advancing.

Canada was to play Jamaica in a two-legged qualifying round but the Jamaicans withdrew.

The nine teams that advanced were divided into three pools, with the group winners advancing to the final round.

The Canadians won their first round group, set a 3–0–1 record against Haiti and Guatemala, going on to face Honduras and El Salvador in the final round. The Americans failed to advance past Costa Rica after a 1–0 loss to Central America in their final pool game in Torrance, Calif.

Canada opened the final round of play on 17 August 1985, rallying for a 1–1 draw with Costa Rica at the Varsity Stadium in Toronto. This took Honduras 1–0 and drew Costa Rica 0–0 to set the stage for the September 14 decider at St. John’s.

The 1986 qualifying road to Canada lasted just eight games (5–0–3) instead of 20 in favor of John Herdman, currently 13–0–4 in qualifying, with an eight-nation 7–0–4 in the final round. Are included.

“I’m totally impressed,” Wilson said of Canada’s current squad.

“The quality of this team is excellent,” he said. “They totally deserve where they sit now.”

Canada came close to qualifying for the 1982 World Cup, reaching the six-nation CONCACAF final round-robin in Honduras after finishing ahead of Mexico and the US in the three-team North American region.

But Canada (1–1–3) finished fourth in the final round, one goal short of qualifying after a final 2–2 draw with Cuba. Honduras and El Salvador move on to the World Cup in Spain

Canada’s 1986 World Cup team benefited from their experience at the 1984 Olympics, where they finished second in their group behind Yugoslavia 1–1–1 and finished 1–1 at Stanford before 36,150. The latter lost to Brazil in the quarterfinal penalty shootout. Stadium.

Brazil’s seven starters, including Wilson and Lenarduzzi, were in the starting 11 for the deciding World Cup qualifiers. Two other Olympic players were suspended for the St John’s match while forward Del Michel was injured.

“Sometimes people forget about the ’84 Olympics,” Wilson said. “But Tony put together a very good, experienced professional team that basically played in the North American league for 10-11 years and we had great results there.”

Canadian men have not qualified for the Olympics since. But they are finally on the verge of making a comeback in the World Cup.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
Latest news
Related news
- Advertisement -


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here