Soccer News: Herdman: Canada ‘showed its belonging’ despite first World Cup loss to Belgium

    John Herdman believes Canada “showed they really belonged” at the World Cup despite a 1-0 first-leg loss to Belgium on Wednesday.

    Returning to the World Cup after a 36-year exodus, Canada dominated the first half and had to take the lead when they were awarded a penalty after Yannick Carrasco saved a shot from Tajon Buchanan.

    However, Alphonso Davies saw his penalty saved by Thibaut Courtois before Michy Batshuayi hit the Belgian winner a minute before halftime, and Canada’s World Cup comeback ended in defeat.

    Despite the disappointing result, Canada head coach Herdman was satisfied with his team’s performance after such a long absence from major international football competitions.

    “They showed that they [Canada] really belong,” Herdman told reporters at a post-match press conference. “It has been a long time since we returned.

    “The fans were trying to warm up the stadium and I’m sure they were proud that we are a football nation. I’m really proud.

    “We had a couple of goals to play fearlessly and entertain. We had other goals, but we never reached those points.”

    Canada finished the game with 22 shots against the nine Belgians, but they only hit the target with three of them as they tie-breakers, becoming only the third team in World Cup history not to score in their first four matches.

    Herdman praised the Belgian defence, adding: “The statistics show that we are a ruthless team, we just couldn’t score.

    “When you have a Real Madrid goalkeeper, [Courtois] it matters when you also have [Toby] Alderweireld, [Jan] Vertonghen, [Leander] Dendonker, it’s hard to get through.

    “Sometimes I thought it was too many touches around the penalty area, but when you beat Belgium you can’t complain too much. Sometimes it’s your night and sometimes it’s not.

    Herdman was asked why defender Davis converted a penalty earlier than striker Jonathan David, who has scored nine goals in 15 games for the Ligue 1 team this season, including two penalties.

    Herdman defended Davis, saying: “It was a big moment, we were waiting to score that first goal.

    “I’m proud of Fonzie [Davies]he picked up the ball. This is an important moment for any player who carries the weight of a nation. It takes on a special character.

    “When you have a player with $85 million, let him take it. He trains just like Johnny David. Give credit to Courtois, it was not bad.

    One positive for Canada is that Morocco and Croatia, the other teams in Group F, drew earlier in the day, meaning that Herdman’s team still has a good chance of qualifying.

    With Croatia next behind Canada on Sunday, Herdman acknowledged both the importance and the difficulty of this matchup, explaining: “The group is wide open after the results of Morocco and Croatia.

    “But now the teams know us, the cover is off, the teams will know what we’re doing and we’re facing a formidable team in Croatia that has a midfield to die for.”

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