A Day Canadians will Never Forget

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Brandon Sweeney, Contributor

March 27 was a day that changed FIFA forever and a day Canadians around the world will never forget. The game was put on at the BMO field after the Canadian men’s national team qualified for the first time since 1986, and it was a surreal experience for sure. After so many years of heartbreak and “what ifs?” this team finally overcame the obstacles and celebrated accordingly.

Millions of people watched from their homes and more than 29,000 people packed Toronto’s FC home ground, which was a record-breaking venue for the Canadian team; the pressure was on. Yet, they didn’t disappoint the crowd, netting 4 goals against Jamaica in a toe-to-toe final-round World Cup qualifier.

The Canada team was all over the visitors from the opening whistle and off to a quick start with Cyle Larin’s opener in the 13th minute. The 26-year-old striker was fed an amazing through ball from Stephen Eustáquio and converted a clinical finish to the far post leaving Jamaica’s goalie in a fury. The game began with a 1-0 lead for Canada.

Canada was off to a blazing start with still a whole game left continuing to pile on the pressure in the aftermath of the opening goal. After many close calls, Tajon Buchanan added Canada’s second goal just before the halftime whistle, controlling a deflected cross from Jonathan David right in front of goal and cashing home a snappy right-footed shot.

The outcome was a mere formality from there, but David Junior Hoilett added the first of two late insurance goals to secure a far lead going into the 82nd minute with a roaring flicked finish that sent an already hectic BMO Field crowd into a flurry of cheering and screaming. Just before the final whistle, Canada added a fourth goal after a deflection off Jamaica’s Adrian Mariappa snuck into the net, officially punching Canada’s ticket into the first World Cup qualifying win since 1986.

“It will change the country forever and our sport forever,” Canada coach John Herdman, in the immediate aftermath of the 4-0 win over Jamaica, said. He added, “We have got to capture the moment. This is what I am saying. Our leaders, the organization, we have to capture this moment and we will set this country up for the next 20 or 30 years.”