Honduras is a soccer nation; Canada isn’t. Still, Canada boasts a strong men’s national team, and made its way to the final game of the group match ahead of Honduras in the standings. On the other hand, Honduras needed a win, or else its World Cup dreams would come to an end. Fortunately for Honduras, they were playing at home, where fans show no respect toward the visiting team, sometimes throwing bags of urine onto opposing players. (Prior to Canada’s recent match against Panama, locals stayed up all night outside of the Canadian hotel, banging pots and pans while players attempted to sleep. Rather than calm the raucous crowd, local radio stations provided the location of the Canadian hotel, so that larger groups of locals could join the fray.) So not only was Canada playing a strong national side; they were up against the entire nation, with its World Cup dreams on the line.
Had Canada pulled off a tie, that would have been considered an “upset,” considering the obstacles thrown in its way. However, the 8-1 drubbing was humiliating – a clear setback – for a country that is rapidly improving in soccer prowess. On the women’s side, Canada is already a world power; however, the men are still climbing. Canada now has three teams in the MLS, which means that gradual improvements are taking place, but the change is slow.
In CONCACAF, the group of nations against which Canada views for World Cup berths, there are a number of formidable teams: the United States, Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Jamaica and Costa Rica, among others. Those are all good teams, but it’s not as if Canada can’t compete. With training professional youth academies in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, Canada will produce more local talent than it has in the past.
It’s unfortunate that Canadians now must wait to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but if things keep progressing at a steady pace, that elusive spot might just be ours.