Canada drawn in Group F with Belgium, Morocco, Croatia at World Cup

Canada's World Cup bound manager John Herdman discusses how "brilliant" the challenge will be ahead of them in Group F, as they'll embrace the underdog story in facing off against three very talented countries in Belgium, Morocco and Croatia.

Canada will face Belgium, Morocco and Croatia in Group F in the opening group stage of the World Cup in Qatar this November.

While there were perhaps tougher destinations — Spain and Germany were drawn in Group E — it is a challenging group for the 38th-ranked Canadian men.

Star-studded Belgium moved into top spot in the FIFA world rankings in September 2018 and stayed there until this week, when it was leapfrogged by Brazil.

No. 16 Croatia was runner-up to France in the 2018 World Cup. This time around it won Group H in European qualifying with a 7-1-2 record, finishing ahead of Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta while outscoring the opposition 21-4.

No. 24 Morocco went unbeaten in African qualifying, securing its World Cup berth with a 5-2 aggregate win over the Democratic Republic of Congo after going 6-0-0 in its initial group.

Canada was the last ball taken in the draw for the tournament, which runs Nov. 21 through Dec. 18.

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The Canadians drew France, Hungary and the Soviet Union as first-round opponents in their only other visit to soccer’s showcase — Mexico ’86. Canada lost all three matches and was outscored 5-0.

Friday’s draw had Canada in Pot 4, which featured the lowest-ranked qualified teams. Rules of the draw meant that the Canadians could not be put in a group with fellow CONCACAF qualifiers Mexico and the U.S.

The draw took place at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center with actor Idris Elba and broadcaster Reshmin Chowdhury as hosts.

“Wow, what an emotion it is to be here in front of you,” said FIFA president Gianni Infantino. “Now it’s getting serious.

“This World Cup will simply be the best World Cup ever. The greatest show on earth,” he added.

Referencing “some turbulences around the world,” Infantino called for the World Cup to bring people together “since we know that hundreds of millions of people are watching this draw and many leaders of the world are also watching.

“Our plea and the plea of the world football community to everyone, to all the leaders and to all the people of the world is stop the conflicts and the wars. Please, please engage in dialogue. Please engage in peace. Because we want this to be the World Cup of unity and the World Cup of peace.”

Friday’s draw featured a global lineup of football royalty with Cafu (Brazil), Lothar Matthaus (Germany), Adel Ahmed MalAllah (Qatar), Ali Daei (Iran), Bora Milutinovic (Serbia/Mexico), Jay-Jay Okocha (Nigeria), Rabah Madjer (Algeria) and Tim Cahill (Australia) assisting.

Former U.S. international Carli Lloyd and former England player Jermaine Jenas also took part.

FIFA also unveiled La’eeb as the tournament’s official mascot. La’eeb, described as “adventurous, fun and curious,” is an Arabic word meaning super-skilled player.

GROUP F SCHEDULE

Nov. 23
Canada vs. Belgium
Morocco vs. Croatia

Nov. 27
Canada vs. Croatia
Belgium vs. Morocco

Dec. 1
Canada vs. Morocco
Croatia vs. Belgium

WORLD CUP DRAW

Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands

Group B: England, Iran, USA, Europe playoff winner

Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland

Group D: France, Intercontinental playoff winner (United Arab Emirates, Australia or Peru), Denmark, Tunisia

Group E: Spain, Intercontinental playoff winner (Costa Rica or New Zealand), Germany, Japan

Group F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia

Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon

Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea

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