Maritimers came out in droves Sunday to watch Canada’s men’s soccer team take on Croatia at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The 2022 tournament marks the team’s first World Cup appearance since 1986.
“It’s full of buzz in this place,” says Faiyaz Tanim, a university student who came out to HFX Sports Bar & Grill to watch the game. “Let’s go Canada!”
The large crowd was eager, anxious, and loud supporting the team’s must-win game. They lost their tournament opener 1-0 to Belgium.
“This is an incredibly exciting time for soccer in Canada,” says Halifax MP Andy Fillmore.
Just over a minute into the game, Alphonso Davies put his name in the history books by scoring the Canadian men’s first-ever World Cup goal.
Fans at the bar erupted with joy.
In neighbouring New Brunswick, a watch party in Fredericton also heard from plenty of happy fans when Canada took the 1-0 lead.
“We love Canada and today, we are Canada,” says Lidi Moura, whose family moved from Brazil to New Brunswick a year ago.
Moura wore a Brazil jersey while wearing red underneath and waving the Canadian flag after the Davies goal.
Sadly for Canadian fans, Croatia scored four straight goals to take a 4-1 win, eliminating Canada from World Cup contention.
Still, people hope the world stage will help the game grow.
“You look around here, I mean the place is packed,” says Missy Seral, a proud soccer fan who has season tickets to the Halifax Wanderers club. “I think we’ve discovered in Nova Scotia that there are more sports… And this is one of the best sports.”
“I think soccer is growing hugely,” says Lise LeBlanc. “When I played soccer, there wasn’t very much soccer at all. And now there’s soccer everywhere and it’s so exciting. Everyone can play.”
Unfortunately, though, the loss means Canada won’t be able to move on to the next round. But Denton Froese, who was decked out in Canadian colours with a flag at his side, is finding the positives from the game.
“The World Cup spirit – it’s the joy of having seen Canada come this far, fight through all the World Cup qualifications,” he says. “They’ve been proving for the last year that they deserve to be on this stage. And now it’s just a celebration to get here.”
Canada plays Morocco in their final group stage game on Thursday to close out the tournament.