Soccer fans could not contain their excitement on Sunday after watching Canada’s men’s team beat Jamaica 4-0 to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
Cyle Larin, Tajon Buchanan and Junior Hoilett scored the first three goals, which were followed by a Jamaican own goal in the 89th minute.
The Canadian team missed out on World Cup qualification in a loss Thursday in Costa Rica, but fans at Sunday’s game say it was a blessing in disguise.
Nick Maffeo says he’s happy they did not end their qualification in Costa Rica, and got the chance to do it in front of a home crowd.
“It’s God’s plan, honestly. It was meant to be,” he told CBC Toronto.
Anthony Conte, who attended the game with some of his friends, says “for the first time in our lifetime we’re going to get to see the boys going to the World Cup. It’s an amazing feeling.”
“We got to see [them qualify] at home. The weather was perfect Canada weather — nice snow and … that’s how we do it in Canada.”
Describing the atmosphere inside the stadium, Dariush Amin says the crowd was engaged the entire time.
“You really knew you were in BMO, we have a different atmosphere,” he said.
“We really set the tone, unlike any other field in Canada, and it’s wonderful that they got to do it here. It is inspirational. This game is going to do wonders for soccer in Canada going forward.”
The match — Canada’s 19th game on the qualifying road to Qatar 2022 — was played in front of a sellout crowd of 29,122 on a chilly day at BMO Field.
The Canadian men were ranked 73rd in the world, compared to 47th place for Jamaica, when they started World Cup qualifying in March 2021. Today Canada is 33rd while Jamaica dropped to 62nd place.
As fans were leaving BMO Field, some could heard shouting “Qatar here we come. Canada is coming.”
Bill Yu says the players came out to play and they delivered.
“They weren’t playing for the tie, they weren’t playing for a draw, they weren’t playing for anything but the win and to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar,” he said.
“And in case the world doesn’t know, our best player wasn’t even here. You better get ready. We’re coming for you Qatar.”
Josh Pedroza says it has been a long and challenging road to get to this day, but it has paid off.
“It’s incredible. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” he said.
“We were a laughing stock for a long time, respect to all former players. It’s awesome to finally see this team come up with so much promise. We’ve got so much going for us and we’re just so excited.”
For Cole Ehrl, “It is definitely a moment in history for all Canadians.”
“This is Canada. We are a soccer nation now and we’re ready for Qatar,” he said.
Meanwhile, Marc Kajouji says he’s been to many World Cup matches but never with his country. Now he’s making plans to go to Qatar.
“I’ve been to five [and] I’m going to Qatar for game number three, Canada group game,” he said.
Former national player Patrice Bernier says he’s happy for his former teammate Atiba Hutchinson, “because he’s toward the last minutes, last moments of his career.”
Hutchinson, who is 39, played in the second half of the game.
“This is a fantastic moment,” Bernier said.
“I can only think of all the labour, all the sacrifice, all the hours and also the moments where your Canadian passport was a heavy burden.
“It’s fantastic, it’s a great day, everybody should just enjoy it. This is a great Canadian sports moment,” Bernier added.
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