John Herdman on 'uniting' Canada to become a soccer 'powerhouse'

Chris Smith
Herdman has guided Canada to a historic qualifying campaign.
Herdman has guided Canada to a historic qualifying campaign. / Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

After leading the nation to their first World Cup since 1986, John Herdman now has his sights set on turning Canada into a soccer 'powerhouse'.

The Canucks have long suffered on this stage, with their only previous World Cup appearance coming 36 years ago.

But hard work behind the scenes to increase the quality of player coming through has reaped rewards. The likes of Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, and Cyle Larin are all playing for top clubs in their respective European leagues and have led Canada to Qatar 2022 with just one qualifying defeat with a single game remaining.

Canada punched their ticket with an emphatic 4-0 win over Jamaica in front of a sold-out BMO Field. Speaking to reporters amid the post-match euphoria, Herdman expressed his pride in giving Canadian fans something to shout about, but firmly set his sights on taking his team even further.

"I think this country, they never believed in us. Because we've given them nothing to believe in," he said. "They believe now.

"And I think if we all get behind each other - this is the time for everyone to get behind football and unite. Because we can be a powerhouse. And it's time."

Herdman elaborated: "We're a football country. We've got a kid [Alphonso Davies] winning Champions League finals. We've got players all over Europe. We've got young kids coming through. And we've just qualified for a World Cup. This is a legit football country.

"A women's team that's won an Olympic gold. What more can we ask for? It's time."

Of course, Canada could have had their World Cup status wrapped up earlier last week, but were desperately unlucky to lose 1-0 in Costa Rica despite going a man down.

But in the end, that defeat just gave the Canadians the chance to make history in front of their own supporters. Something Herdman was thankful for in the end.

"I'm just so pleased we didn't win in Costa Rica," Herdman said with a smile. "I'm so pleased that this is how it was meant to be. So I know why the football gods wouldn't let us score [in Costa Rica]. It was for tonight."

Canada will look to seal top spot and round off a triumphant qualifying campaign when they travel to Panama on Wednesday evening.