Kelowna goes World Cup crazy for Canada

Agonizing wait for World Cup glory continues for Canada

Canada is still looking for that elusive first ever goal and point at a FIFA World Cup, but they sure came close.

And for nearly everyone inside one Kelowna restaurant on Wednesday, the team’s heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Belgium showed that Canada has very much arrived on the world stage.

“Disappointed to lose, but we just outplayed the Number 2 ranked team in the world today,” one fan watching at Canadian Brewhouse in Pandosy Village told Kelowna10 after the final whistle. “A lot of positives to take away from that.”

For another fan who was among the packed crowd at the Canadian Brewhouse this was a performance superior to anything the team has delivered in the past.

“If you asked any Canada soccer fans three years ago if we if we’re going to be losing 1-0 to Belgium, ranked the second best team in the world before the World Cup… we played incredibly well.”

Canada put on a show in its return to the tournament after a 36-year absence but failed to convert its chances in a valiant loss in Qatar.

The 41st-ranked Canadians looked anything but awed at the occasion, repeatedly forcing the second-ranked Belgians onto the back foot.

And Canada had a glorious chance to score its first-ever World Cup goal and take the lead in the 10th minute, only to see Thibaut Courtois, the Inspector Gadget-like Belgian goalkeeper, stop Alphonso Davies' penalty attempt after Yannick Carrasco was yellow-carded for handball. The 22-year-old from Edmonton clutched his face in disappointment.

The pace and press of the Canadians caused the Belgians real discomfort in a first half that saw the Canadians launch 14 shots - the most without scoring in the first half of a World Cup match since England (17) against Trinidad and Tobago in 2006, according to sports analytics company Opta.

Most of Canada's efforts were off-target. Belgium attempted four shots and made one count late in the half.

Michy Batshuayi quietened the pro-Canada crowd in the 44th minute, bringing down a well-flighted long ball from defender Toby Alderweireld that Canadian Steven Vitoria just missed getting his foot to. Batshuayi outpaced the chasing Kamal Miller and Richie Laryea and calmly beat Milan Borjan for a 1-0 lead.

Canada's last World Cup outing was 13,316 days ago, according to Canada Soccer -- a 2-0 loss to the Soviet Union on June 9, 1986, in Leon, Mexico.

Canada next plays Croatia on Sunday before wrapping up their first round action against Morocco next week.

--With files from The Canadian Press

Published 2022-11-23 by Glenn Hicks

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