Canada boss jokes he hopes Man City star Kevin De Bruyne is ill for World Cup fixture against Belgium and reveals future ambitions ahead of 2026 tournament

    Canada manager John Herdman joked he hopes Belgium maestro Kevin De Bruyne is ill when they face Roberto Martinez’s men at the World Cup.

    The Canadians are appearing at the tournament for the first time in 36 years and Englishman Herdman admits they’ll need a bit of luck having been drawn in the same group as Belgium and Croatia.

    Herdman knows Canada are not favourites to qualify out of their group, but has said he and his players will relish the occasion

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    Herdman knows Canada are not favourites to qualify out of their group, but has said he and his players will relish the occasion

    The finals are due to kick off on November 21, with Canada beginning their campaign two days later against the no.2 ranked side in the world, Belgium.

    It’s undoubtedly a tall order for Herdman and his players, but they will be going into the tie with nothing to lose as the underdog.

    And whilst Belgium are full of star-studded players such as De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard, miracles are possible in football.

    Plus, the North American side will be hoping Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies and Lille ace Jonathan David will be able to show what they can do on the biggest stage in football.

    But speaking on Hawksbee and Jacobs on talkSPORT, the Canada boss is hoping for a bit of luck ahead of the tie against De Bruyne and co.

    Davies and David will have to play out of their skin if Canada are to produce a shock in Qatar

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    Davies and David will have to play out of their skin if Canada are to produce a shock in Qatar

    The Canadians will have to be at their best to stop the brilliant De Bruyne

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    The Canadians will have to be at their best to stop the brilliant De Bruyne

    “I’m just hoping De Bruyne is a bit sick that day,” the 46-year-old jokingly said, adding he is actually relishing playing against the world’s best.

    Herdman, also spoke about the pride of guiding Canada to their first World Cup since 1986, while also revealing what their ambitions are in this tournament, as well in 2026, where they will be co-hosts alongside the USA and Mexico.

    “Just an amazing experience, the euphoria of qualifying, the country hasn’t been at a World Cup for 30-odd years and there hasn’t been much to celebrate in the men’s side of the game for a long time,” he added.

    “Just to feel that emotion with the whole country, it’s something that we dreamed of and it happened in Toronto, in our home stadium, we qualified there and then against Jamaica, and it was a priceless feeling.

    Herdman’s side beat Jamaica 4-0 at home to seal their place

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    Herdman’s side beat Jamaica 4-0 at home to seal their place

    “Everything is an opportunity at this World Cup, we said we wanted to qualify, create the foundation because we’ve got a home World Cup in 2026.

    “That’s where we’re really expecting the pressure and expectation from our fans, but this one, we’re going to enjoy it and hopefully be that Cinderella story.”

    Despite the tough draw, Herdman is still very happy with the opposition as it takes the pressure off them to win the match.

    “It was what we wanted, as a group, you don’t want to be in groups where you’ve got teams where people are expecting you to get results,” he said.

    “This is the Canadian story, it’s been a real underdog story through the whole qualification, we had to go on a 20-game qualifying route to get to Qatar, more than any other team, it was a wild ride.

    “If we didn’t get Belgium or Croatia, it just wouldn’t have been the storyline, so for us it’s just pure motivation.”

    Herdman was was appointed as Canada’s head coach in 2018

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    Herdman was was appointed as Canada’s head coach in 2018

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