Canada's World Cup campaign ends without a point after loss to Morocco
Canada fought until the very end for a first-ever World Cup point, but Morocco held firm, winning 2-1 at Al Thumama Stadium on Thursday to clinch top spot in Group F and send John Herdman's side home with a 0-0-3 record.
Hakim Ziyech capitalized on a costly giveaway by Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan to give Morocco an early lead. Youssef En-Nesyri doubled his country's advantage in the 23rd minute when he beat Canada's center-backs in a foot race and tucked a shot inside Borjan's near post.
Canada halved the deficit just before halftime - Moroccan defender Nayef Aguerd deflected Sam Adekugbe's cross into his own goal - and put pressure on the north African side from that point on.
Its biggest chance to equalize fell to Atiba Hutchinson in the 71st minute. The 39-year-old's header came within inches of crossing the goal line after crashing off the crossbar. Seconds later, Alistair Johnston's follow-up narrowly missed the top corner.
Despite all of its efforts, Canada joined Qatar as the only two teams at the World Cup to finish the group stage without a single point. The men's national team finished dead last in Group F with two goals scored and seven conceded.
Canada lost all three games in its only other World Cup appearance in 1986 but failed to score a goal that year.
"I'm proud of what these lads have shown here. ... It's going to sting, but there isn't a game we're not proud of. I think we competed in every match here," Herdman told TSN's Matthew Scianitti.
"It's the first time we've been here in 36 years. There's a qualitative gap at all levels, and we're trying to close that. That's what we'll be doing, and that's where we'll go. We'll keep learning as an organization, as a coach, and as a player group.
"We'll be back stronger. We've got four years to build. But this is our first step into the big unknown, and we've found a lot of things out, that this team has quality, we can compete, and we were close."
Canada lost to Belgium in its opening match in Qatar despite outshooting the No. 2-ranked side 22-9. Alphonso Davies missed an early penalty kick, and striker Jonathan David failed to hit the target with any of his seven attempts on goal, allowing Belgium to escape with a 1-0 result.
Davies made amends in Canada's second Group F match against Croatia, scoring his country's first-ever World Cup goal after just 68 seconds. That goal remains the quickest of the tournament thus far.
But the 4-1 defeat that followed ultimately eliminated Canada from knockout-round contention.
Herdman's team will switch its attention to the 2026 World Cup, which Canada will co-host alongside the United States and Mexico.
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