AL THUMAMA, Qatar – Football, be it the American variety or otherwise, is a game of inches.
The Canadian men’s national team learned that the hard way on Thursday, as it has in all three World Cup games.
The 2-1 defeat to Morocco at Al Thumama Stadium really stuck out in that regard. Two headers from Atiba Hutchinson (off the crossbar) and Alistair Johnston (narrowly over the bar), was all that separated Canada between a sixth consecutive World Cup defeat and its first-ever point.
“Two inches,” said a lamented Canada coach John Herdman in his post-match press conference. “Two inches from getting our first result.”
Ultimately, sports are a results-based business and in due time, there will be enough discourse to fill a book on the men’s national team’s outlook for the 2026 World Cup after its first tournament in 36 years.
For now, though, here’s what we learned from a fascinating and entertaining 2-1 loss.
BORJAN EXPOSED AGAIN
Mark this game down with the 2019 Gold Cup quarterfinal versus Haiti as a match that Milan Borjan may never forget for all the wrong reasons.
Four minutes in, Steven Vitoria hit an undercooked pass that casually rolled toward Borjan as the defender attempted to evade pressure from Youssef En-Nesyri. With the Moroccan striker closing in on Borjan, the Canadian No. 1 compounded the error with a half-hearted pass right to the foot of Hakim Ziyech, who chipped the ball into an open goal.
Just under 20 minutes later, a lofted ball over the top of Canada’s defence – arguably its major weakness – landed at En-Nesyri’s feet and he doubled Morocco’s lead.
Normally, goalkeepers will position themselves just outside the top of their box, sometimes even further up the pitch, when the ball is in the opposition’s half. Then, if a long pass is attempted and a defender can’t deal with it in the air, the goalkeeper will sweep it away.
Unfortunately for Canada, Borjan was nowhere to be found. Potentially due to the early error, he opted to retreat to his goal, allowing En-Nesyri to latch onto the ball and double the lead.
Borjan isn’t the only one to blame, of course. It was Vitoria who was uncomfortable under pressure when he had the ball. He also could’ve dealt with the long pass. Ditto for Kamal Miller, whose lack of pace on the turn cost him on the second goal. But this is where an alert and adventurous goalkeeper comes in handy if those frailties are exploited.
For all the talk of “traditional goalkeeping” at this World Cup, today’s game sometimes calls for more modern methods.
If Borjan eventually steps aside, Maxime Crepeau and Dayne St. Clair are capable of fulfilling these tasks. They certainly could’ve used them on Thursday in those situations.
DOUBLE PIVOT ISSUES
Herdman has leaned on a double pivot, usually with Junior Hoilett or one of the defenders providing extra cover in certain situations.
Hutchinson’s load management and Stephen Eustaquio’s hamstring injury meant that the go-to options were not capable of starting the match. Couple that with the obvious attacking quality, and the method makes sense from Herdman’s perspective.
“We’re always trying to get as many wide players deployed,” Herdman explained when asked why he didn’t start with a trio to match up with Morocco’s midfield. “[With] players that can play inside with double width, it’s difficult to play that extra midfielder and when I look at the quality around my team, you always see our quality in areas where we’re trying to ensure we’re on the front foot.”
However, the decision to start a rusty Mark-Anthony Kaye with Toronto FC teammate Jonathan Osorio wasn’t without its issues. For starters, they were getting stretched off the ball. Plus, in order to release the full-backs and wingers into space, they needed to shuffle across and play off those players.
In order to utilize a successful double pivot, the midfielders need to be incredibly active and fast to cover all that ground. Osorio’s distribution was solid but ask him to play box-to-box in a pivot, and there’ll be trouble.
Both players started in similar roles versus the United States in World Cup Qualifying last January and were below average. The U.S. just failed to capitalize on all the open space in transition.
Eventually, changes arrived in the form of Atiba Hutchinson and Ismael Kone. Hutchinson shielded the defence, Kone played more advanced, and in an effort to enable fellow substitute Richie Laryea to bomb forward, Johnston tucked inside as an inverted full-back for added midfield cover.
“We were planning to adapt after the first 20 [minutes] into that 5-3-2,” Herdman said. “I think it sort of made a difference.”
It was far more impactful in the second half once Kone, who has the dynamism and vision to handle the rigours of playing in an end-to-end match. To the 20-year-old’s credit, he was excellent while Hutchinson orchestrated beautifully from the back.
From the outset, Tajon Buchanan and Alphonso Davies were playing inverted, with Buchanan on the left and Davies on the right.
It wasn’t paying off too much, but there was a method to the madness.
“Buchanan’s work as a wingback at Club Brugge is more of a two-way of playing,” Herdman said.
That would ideally enable Buchanan to provide some defensive cover for Sam Adekugbe against Ziyech and Achraf Hakimi but that didn’t really happen based on the average positioning (Buchanan is No. 11).
As for Davies, Morocco’s pattern of conceding goals meant Davies could’ve been a useful weapon on the right wing.
“We wanted to have that right foot coming in off the line if you look at the goals Morocco concede,” said Herdman. “We knew that work on the byline would be difficult so there was something about trying to get [Davies] released on the inside on his left foot coming inside to be able to take opportunities at the top of the box.”
Ultimately, the goal was created via Adekugbe down the left flank with Buchanan positioned nearby for quick flick-ons, so the strategy, while understandable, didn’t exactly pay off.
A Look At Today’s Best Live Dealer Online Casino Games
Some of the most popular games you can play at fully licensed online casinos today are live dealer games, such as Live Dealer Roulette, Live Dealer Blackjack, TV Game Show-themed live dealer games, and Live Dealer Slots. Here is a closer look at some of the best live dealer games from three leading software providers – Evolution Gaming, Pragmatic Play, and OnAir Entertainment.
All of these state-of-the-art live dealer games are now available to play in the real money mode at a fully licensed online casino called Lucky Spins Canada, which is free to sign up to and is currently offering all new Canadian players up to 500 FREE SPINS for Play’n GO’s iconic Book of Dead online slot, plus a 100% matching deposit bonus worth up to C$500.
Top 10 Live Dealer Games in the Spotlight
Here are ten of the best live dealer casino games that you must check out. These games have wide betting ranges that cater to low rollers and high rollers alike (and pretty much all other betting ranges in between low rollers and high rollers), and you can often play one round/hand/spin from as little as C$0.10 to C$0.50 up to C$1,000.00 or more.
The top ten live dealer games from Evolution Gaming, Pragmatic Play, OnAir Entertainment, Betgames.tv, Ezugi, and eBET that you must check out include the following mixture of live table & card games, live slots, and television game show live dealer games:
- Live PowerUp Roulette from Pragmatic Play
- Live Andar Bahar from Ezugi
- Live Teen Patti from Ezugi
- Live XXXtreme Lightning Roulette from Evolution Gaming
- Live Crazy Coin Flip from Evolution Gaming
- MONOPOLY Live from Evolution Gaming
- Live Wheel of Fortune from Betgames.tv
- Live Airwave Roulette from OnAir Entertainment
- Live Black Sports Arena from OnAir Entertainment
- Bet On Poker Live from Betgames.tv
How old do I have to be to play live casino games?
To play live dealer games at online casinos, such as Lucky Spins, you generally need to be at least 18 years old. However, always check because, in some regions where online gambling is legal, it could be 21 or 20 years old.
What devices can I play live dealer games from?
You can play live dealer games from all of the providers mentioned above using either a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. Just make sure that it has decent Wi-Fi or internet connectivity. Most games can be launched instantly in your web browser, plus you also generally have the option to download and install a free casino app directly onto your smartphone or tablet and then play from within the secure app.
What to remember when playing for real money
When playing for real money, don’t forget to set deposit limits where possible. Don’t ever chase your losses because it may result in you losing even more money, and don’t gamble just for the sake of it. Try and have fun, and always remember to gamble responsibly. Gambling is meant to be fun, so if you aren’t having fun anymore, it might be a good idea to take a break from gambling for a while.
Gambling in Ireland vs. Canada
Gambling has traditionally played a significant role in Irish society. Naturally, the advancement of technology has changed how Irish gamblers conduct their business. Because of cell phones, placing bets is now simpler than ever (You could check here for a few trustworthy ones). However, Irish individuals must be cognizant of the country’s licensing laws.
Irish gamers can wager on bingo, lotteries, casino games, poker, sports, and more about the regulated and licensed gambling websites, making internet gambling in Ireland a multi-million-dollar business. This is not so dissimilar from the humongous gambling industry in Canada. For the past couple of years, gambling practices have been on the rise in Canada. So in today’s article, we’ll be looking at how gambling has fared in Ireland vs. Canada.
According to the most recent statistics from Ireland from 2022, approximately half of the Irish population (49%) partakes in gambling, while its estimated prevalence for gambling addiction is 0.3%, meaning there are 12,000 problem gamblers in Ireland. Since only a small percentage of those with an issue with betting seek treatment, there is a need to try and understand Irish gambling behavior and treatment adoption.
According to industry statistics, Irish gamblers ended up losing over €1.36 billion the year before last, or around €300 on average for every person, ranking them as the fourth-largest gamblers throughout the EU. According to industry researchers H2 Gambling Capital, Ireland places 14th internationally for the biggest median gambling losses, comfortably ahead of the UK but behind Sweden (€325 per adult), Malta (€334), and Finland (€342).
Revenue rose €51.9 million in conventional betting duty revenues and €40.6 million in online betting receipts in 2019, almost twice as much as the corresponding amounts from the preceding year ($28.9 million & €21.7 million, respectively). Sports betting is the most well-liked online form of gambling, comprising over 41% of the industry and bringing in €10 billion in 2019, claims the European Gaming and Betting Association.
Instead of using desktop computers, over 44% of all internet wagers are placed from a phone or tablet. By 2025, it is anticipated that approximately 6 out of 10 online wagers will be placed using mobile devices. Despite representing just 1.1% of the total population, Ireland generates 2.6% of Europe’s online gambling market in terms of revenue, according to the H2 data.
Like many other nations, Canada has a large gambling industry. The majority of gamblers don’t suffer any consequences, but a small percentage will. The number of gambling options in Canada has grown over the years, and new gambling innovations like online poker & sports betting have increased the significance of more thorough and ongoing oversight.
A study used information from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) to assess gambling and gambling-related issues among adults aged 15 and over. Those who may be at risk of developing a problem with gambling are identified using a Problem Gambling Index. This evaluates problem gambling behavior and the effects of that behavior on the individual or others.
Of the 18.9 million Canadians aged 15 and over, nearly two-thirds (64.5%) reported betting in the previous year, & 1.6% of those gamblers were exposed to a substantial risk of gambling-related issues. Men were more prone than women to file gambling in the previous year across all age categories. Additionally, men were more likely to have a relatively high risk of developing gambling-related issues.
Though they were more prone to developing gambling problems, people in lower social households were less inclined to wager than those of relatively high-earning households.
- 1% of Canadians at significantly higher risk for gambling issues were among the 71.5% of those living in higher-earning households who reported betting in the last year.
- 8% of people from low-income families gambled in the preceding year, and 2.7% of them were at moderate to high risk for developing gambling addictions.
The likelihood of gambling-related issues rose with the quantity of casino games played.
In the multivariate analyses, the majority of factors, such as engaging in various gambling activities, living single (or separated or divorced), being unmarried, and possessing poor or fair mental well-being, remained independently related to gambling problems.
Canada Soccer has hit the big time with coach John Herdman
In every team’s final news conference at a World Cup, it’s tradition to ask the head coach if he plans to stick around.
Someone threw it up at Canadian national men’s coach John Herdman following this country’s measured success in Qatar.
Herdman gave a meandering answer of 1 minute 15 seconds that ended this way: “[Belgian assistant coach] Thierry Henry told me this team played [Belgium] off the park. I’ll take that. Because if that’s our foundation? We’ve got a great four years ahead, and I can’t wait to get after it.”
Though that reply didn’t contain the crucial word, people took it for a “yes.” Because what else would it be?
Few coaches in the world have a gig this sweet. Herdman is such a big fish in Canada’s soccer pond that he essentially runs the program. He’s got a guaranteed spotlight in the next World Cup, which Canada will be in by virtue of being a co-host. He’s still young (47), says he loves living here and is signed for the long term.
Maybe he’d like to coach at a sexier program in Europe. Wouldn’t anyone in his position?
But with that caveat, from the outside looking in, Canada is a great job. It wasn’t always, but Herdman (with a major assist from Alphonso Davies’s parents) turned it into one.
Which makes it curious that reports out of New Zealand on Wednesday claimed that Herdman was about to be appointed the coach of that country’s men’s national team.
In a report from the NewsHub network, Herdman was described as “the clear top pick” for the job. To hear this story tell it, it was just a matter of fussing with details.
Canada is the 53rd-ranked team in the world and on the rise. New Zealand is 105th and just barely treading water. New Zealand is Canada 10 years ago, and not in a fun, preinflation sort of way.
A complicating factor – Herdman’s son, Jay, plays for New Zealand’s under-19 national team. An even more complicated one – money. Some people love their job, but everyone loves money.
That said, judged from the perspective of social capital, the New Zealand job is not a promotion. It’s not even a lateral move. It’s trading the big leagues for the bush leagues.
So what’s going on? Does Herdman want out of Canada? And if so, why? Does he want more money? Is he a secret Lord of the Rings superfan?
This is what happens when a story like this is loosed into the world and not recaptured immediately – people begin to wonder all sorts of fantastical things.
As usual, whenever a story about it is breaking, Canada Soccer was caught in a blank stare on Wednesday morning. It wasn’t until early afternoon that an official denial was put together.
Three people commented in that statement – Herdman, Canada Soccer general secretary Earl Cochrane and Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis.
Bontis affirmed the “full confidence” of the board in Herdman, which is weird. He just took Canada to its first World Cup in 40 years. Why wouldn’t the board have confidence in him?
Cochrane noted first and foremost that Herdman is under contract until after the 2026 World Cup, which is also weird. That’s not news.
Herdman was unequivocal: “I’m not going anywhere.” But he also felt the need to mention that he’s got “several offers” recently, including one from New Zealand, which is super weird. If you’re happy where you are, why do so many people think you aren’t? And why do you feel the need to share that information?
Another oddity – no one mentioned anything about the story out of New Zealand being wrong. Actually, none of them mentioned the story at all.
If there were no truth to any of this, all that was required was a straight denial. That should have taken 15 minutes to put together.
Instead, it took hours to wrangle all the top decision-makers at Canada Soccer to patch up a complex, interwoven, multiperson denial. That has the whiff of an organization protesting o’ermuch.
So no fire, but plenty of smoke and lots of time left to sit around doing a paranoid arson investigation.
Nothing has come of this little fizzle, but something’s coming. That’s how this works. Not always, but often enough to make it a rule. It’s just a matter of figuring when, where, who and how it can hurt the most.
Can the Canadian men’s program survive without Herdman? Of course it can. Every graveyard is full of indispensable men, but none are as chock-a-block as the crypts of sports. Herdman’s done the hard work of stitching the Canadian team into a unit. All the next person has to do is hold that group together until 2026.
A better question is can the men’s team thrive if we’re going to spend the next three years trying to figure out when John Herdman is leaving, and where he’s going, and who’s to blame for that, and what does Alphonso Davies think about that, and why is Canada Soccer always like this, and exactly how long is a regulation pitchfork?
Those questions are a lot more interesting, and the people who care about them – it’s a small group, but it’s growing – will spill barrels of virtual ink interrogating them.
Uncertainty is an enemy of successful sports organizations, and intrigue is its accelerant. From player strikes to spats over pay to people rubbishing the organization after they’ve left, Canada Soccer has always had these twin weaknesses much worse than most. The difference is that now people have started paying attention.
At the very least, making the World Cup in Qatar was supposed to graduate Canada out of this high school state of affairs. Canada was a big-timer now, with a big-time coach with big-time plans. Well, I hope Canada Soccer is happy. Because now it has a big-time HR headache, and shouting at people that you feel fine, fine, totally fine is not going to make them believe you.
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