Will Canada Make an Impact at the 2026 World Cup?

Although Canada is still some way from becoming one of the powerhouses of international football (or soccer, if you prefer), they are enjoying one of the brighter periods of their hundred-year history. Not only have they risen through the FIFA rankings from their all-time low of 122, but they are the co-hosts of the upcoming 2026 World Cup. Thanks to hosts gaining automatic qualification, the Canadians will get what is only their third-ever taste of the World Cup finals. Previous attempts have not gone well for them but with a decent squad and home advantage, perhaps 2026 will be different.

Canadian Recovery

A humbling 8-1 defeat to Honduras in October 2012 was the start of an incredibly poor run of form for the Canadian national soccer team. They went the following 15 matches without a win, with this winless streak spanning close to two years. This awful run, which included defeats to Mauritania and Martinique, saw Canada slump to a FIFA ranking of 122 in August 2014. The country had never been so low in FIFA’s global rankings before and it saw them placed behind the likes of Tajikistan and Central African Republic.

Fifa world cup rankings
Fifa World Cup Rankings (October 2012)

These were dark times indeed for the team that plays in red and white but there have been real signs of change recently. Most of the improvements have been attributed to John Herdman, the former women’s team manager who was appointed manager of the men’s team in January 2018. Herdman brought in sweeping changes, particularly behind the scenes, including beefing up the backroom personnel and booking chartered flights to ensure the team arrived to away games earlier than they usually would.

There were also positive changes on the pitch, perhaps inspired by an increased level of professionalism off it. Herdman’s men began sweeping past most minnows that stood in their way with positive and dominant football. Improvements were also made when facing bigger nations such as their main rivals the USA. Herdman’s first meeting with Canada’s southern neighbours resulted in a 2-0 victory, ending a 17-game winless run against them in the process.

Herdman left his post in August 2023 though, largely due to Canada Soccer not matching his level of ambition. This, coupled with some reported dressing-room clashes and the feeling that he had lost the authority over some of the squad’s more senior players. So, Canada’s national team very much finds itself at a crossroads as the 2026 World Cup edges ever closer. Canada Soccer are yet to name a permanent successor to Herdman and they cannot afford to pick the wrong candidate who risks wasting Canada’s golden generation.

How Will Canada Fare at the 2026 World Cup?

World Cup 2026 Winner Odds
World Cup 2026 Ante Post Odds

Although this is a hard question to answer until a new permanent manager is named, we would be reluctant to hype Canada’s chances up too much. At the 2022 World Cup, they lost all their group stage games, just as they did during their debut World Cup finals appearance in 1986. In their defence though, the group faced in Qatar was a tough one, consisting of Belgium, Croatia and Morocco. The expansion of the 2026 edition of the competition, featuring 48 teams up from 32, will increase the chances of Canada facing more beatable opponent in the group stages.

Playing on home turf should also be to Canada’s advantage in 2026 as hosts have generally performed well during World Cups. Qatar was a major exception to this rule, becoming the only host to lose all of their matches. It partly took so long for this to happen because usually, big footballing nations host tournaments, rather than countries like Qatar. Canada will be among one of the weakest nations to host a World Cup but home soil should help their cause nonetheless.

In terms of the betting, Canadian gambling site casivo.ca are reporting odds as big as 100/1 for Canada to win the World Cup in 2026. Although we would not back Canada – even at that price! – to get too far in the competition, collecting some group stage points seems very realistic unless they receive an extremely unlucky draw. They did not produce the goods in 2022 but Canadian football is still firmly within its ‘golden generation’ and will be by the time the 2026 World Cup kicks off. Once a country that lacked any well-known players, the Canadian team of today has some legitimate stars.

Key Players

Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies (Credit: ACHPF / bigstock)

If Canada are going to collect their first points at the World Cup, they will be relying on their big players to show up for the occasion. As all of the names listed below are currently no older than 27, they should be even better by the of the big tournament.

Alphonso Davies

The poster boy of the men’s national team, Alphonso Davies, is already enjoying a fine career despite his young age. Since 2019 he has been a regular feature for Bayern Munich and there have been rumours that he may switch to Spanish giants Real Madrid. Boasting incredible athleticism, handy versatility and a wonderful left foot, Davies is the sort of player any team would love to have. At the time of writing, the 23-year-old already had 45 caps for Canada along with an impressive haul of 15 goals.

Jonathan David

Just 11 months older than Davies is fellow countryman Jonathan David. Having made a name for himself at Belgian outfit Gent, the speedy forward secured a move to Ligue 1 side Lille. In France, he has proven a true asset and a consistent source of goals. His knack for scoring goals is just as present on the international stage too as he has netted 26 times in 46 appearances for his country.

Tajon Buchanan

Like David, Buchanan made a name for himself playing in Belgium. The Ontario-born player enjoyed two-and-a-half seasons at Club Brugge before securing a €10m move to Inter Milan in January 2024. Although Canada’s first Serie A representative is yet to gain regular minutes for the Italian champions, it is an exciting move nevertheless for the 25-year-old.

Stephen Eustaquio

Born in Canada to Portuguese parents, Eustaquio had the choice to represent either nation and did both at youth level. He committed to Canada at senior level though and made his debut on 15th November 2019. Since then he has made another 34 appearances, becoming a regular fixture in the centre of the Canadian midfield. As for his club football, he has spent the past two seasons at Porto where he has enjoyed a healthy amount of game time.