Canada advances to World Cup for first time in 36 years

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Posted at 8:48 PM, Mar 27, 2022

TORONTO (AP) — Cyle Larin, Tajon Buchanan and Junior Hoilett scored and Canada secured its first World Cup berth in 36 years with a 4-0 victory over Jamaica on Sunday.

Canada has been to the World Cup just once before, in 1986.

Canada missed out a chance to secure a spot in Qatar last week with a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica. It was Canada’s first loss in three World Cup qualifying rounds and it snapped a six-game winning streak.

Boosted by the home crowd at BMO Filed, Canada rebounded against the Jamaicans, who were already eliminated from World Cup contention.

Canada sits atop the table in the final qualifying round, followed by the United States, which held the edge over third-place Mexico on goal difference. The United States hosted Panama and Mexico was at Honduras later on Sunday.

The top three finishers in the North and Central American and Caribbean region book the trip to Qatar. The fourth-place team goes to an intercontinental playoff against a team from Oceania.

Because Canada was ranked 73rd in July 2020 when the format was announced, it had to advance through two early rounds and was playing its 17th qualifier Sunday. Canada has improved to 33rd.

The Canadians wrap up the qualifying round Wednesday in Panama.

Snow fell at times at BMO Field. Temperatures were in the 20s at game time but its didn’t daunt a sellout crowd.

Larin put Canada in front early with his team-leading 13th goal of the qualifying tournament. He had another clear chance in the 38th minute but the ball went just wide.

Larin is one goal behind Ali Mabkhout of the United Arab Emirates for most goals in qualifying for Qatar. Larin, who leads the national team with a best-ever 24 goals, has had six goals in the final round.

Buchanan scored in the 44th, celebrating with a backflip, to put Canada up 2-0 going into the break.

Hoilett added the final goal in the 82nd and an own goal in the 88th to round out scoring.

Just one of Canada’s players Sunday was alive when the nation was last in the World Cup: Captain Atiba Hutchison was 3 when the Canadians lost to France, Hungary and the Soviet Union by a combined 5-0 at the 1986 tournament in Mexico.

Canada has been playing without star Alphonso Davies, who missed the previous three qualifying matches because myocarditis was discovered after he caught COVID-19 un January.