Deep down, maybe not even that deep, you always knew it was going to be a hard ask for a team that’s set out a defensive stall the last couple of years to suddenly switch on that attacking switch and go goal crazy. All the while keeping one eye on a game thousands of miles away and hoping for a goalfest for the home team.
Your heart said it could be done, your head was having a laugh at the very thought.
Canada gave it their best try, running out 3-1 winners against El Salvador. You can’t fault the commitment and the constant pressure from the players. You can fault the horrendous missed chances, the bizarre substitutions, and the tactics and team selection from this whole group stage.
In the end, none of it really mattered as Mexico and Honduras ground out a boring scoreless draw at the Azteca, in a game that saw the hosts muster one measly shot on target. Thanks for nothing Mexico. We’d boycott you if your food wasn’t so simply delicious, and cheap, and your girls so beautiful.
Canada scored three goals. You don’t see that every day. You also don’t see Canada in the Hex and so it proved once again. They’ve not been there since the 1998 qualification cycle. You feel they’re closer. It just needs something, someone to help push them over the last remaining hurdle to get there.
This time though, you’re just left with that nagging knowledge that this team was good enough to get there and it’s been a wasted opportunity full of what ifs. But that’s football. Especially the Canadian variety.
AFTN photographer Tom Ewasiuk was there to capture all the action and anguish before, during and after the game and here’s our “Story In Pictures”, with a full Flickr slideshow at the end.[Also check out Tom’s website www.residualimagephotography.com for more of his photos and work].
The Voyageurs tifo
You can tell the guys who have been in England and know how to do this properly
After some heartstopping early pressure from El Salvador, Cyle Larin fires home Canada’s first 11 minutes in
Giving your all for your country hurts
Let the bodies hit the floor, it is CONCACAF after all
Miss Canada seemed to be in attendance. Cyle Larin seemed particularly keen to get her attention, firing over from five yards out in the 29th minute
Two minutes later, Junior Hoilett springs a three on two Canadian break
Playing in Cyle Larin
Who misses another chance and he knows it only too well
Only one up at the half, Canada need to go for goals and hope, and they grab another in the 53rd minute
With Nik Ledgerwood being the unlikely hero
There’s still time…
Then all hell breaks loose in the 55th minute. There’s a stramash and Darwin Delgado sees red
But the man disadvantage only serves to spur El Salvador on and they turn the pressure up on the Canadian defence
After a few close calls, disaster for Canada as Gerson Villavicencio leaves the Canadian defence cold
Setting up Nelson Sanchez, who easily pulls one back from El Salvador
It’s looking bleak now for Canada as they simply can’t find another way through
But the Whitecaps’ David Edgar, playing in who knows what position, finishes the Canadian campaign with a bang, slipping home a Tosaint Ricketts pass two minutes into stoppage
But the reality soon sets in, and that’s Canada’s World Cup hopes over for another four years
You can see all of Tom’s photos from the game HERE and in our full Flickr slideshow below: