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Belgium squeezes by Canada in World Cup opener

Bowen fans were eager to welcome the Canadian men's soccer team back to the tournament after nearly four decades

The Canadian men’s national team put forward a valiant effort in their return to World Cup play, but ultimately fell just short in a 1-0 loss to Belgium in the first round of Group F play on Wednesday morning. 

The game, held at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, was conveniently scheduled for a start time of 11 am Pacific, meaning fans from coast to coast to coast had an opportunity to see Canada’s first game in the tournament in 36 years.

Bowen was no exception, with a high turnout at the Pub to take in the action. It was a promising start as Canada was gifted a golden opportunity for their first goal in World Cup history with an early penalty decision awarded their way. But Alphonso Davies’ shot to the left side of the goal was desperately saved by the outstretched hand of goalie Thibaut Courtois.

It proved to be a costly miss as just before the stroke of halftime Belgium delivered with a goal by Michy Batshuayi. A great run by the Fenerbahçe forward allowed him to get behind a pair of Canadian defenders and slam the ball into the right side of the net past a helpless Milan Borjan.

Canada showed some moments of pressure in the second half but the Belgium defense managed to hang onto the one-goal margin, securing the win and the coveted three points. The other members of Group F, Croatia and Morocco, tied 0-0 earlier in the day, meaning Canada is at the bottom of the group after the first round of games.

A positive result will be crucial when Canada returns to the pitch Sunday, Nov. 27 against Croatia at 8 am. The Canadians close out the group stage versus Morocco on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7 am.