In the game between Belgium and Canada, Bayern Munich’s roadrunner Alphonso Davies missed a crucial penalty after just nine minutes that could’ve put them ahead of the Red Devils. Instead, Belgium scored through Michy Batshuayi just before halftime, and that’s how it stayed until the end of the game.
Canada coach Josh Herdman defended Davies being the penalty taker on grounds of the team’s “brotherhood” and also because he’s THE player.
“When you’ve got an 85-million-dollar player with that sort of swagger, let him pick up the ball and take it,” Herdman said (via Radio France Internationale). “It was a big moment. We were waiting to get that first goal. I’m proud of Phonzy, he’s picked the ball up.
“He’s carrying the weight of a nation and 36 years of waiting.”
Despite the loss, Herdman was proud of his boys’ effort and shifted their focus to picking up points against Croatia and Morocco. “I can’t complain too much, sometimes it’s your night and sometimes it’s not. They showed tonight that they do belong here,” Herdman said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been back and I’m sure the fans walked away proud and feeling like we are football nation.”
Canada, of course, still have every chance to advance.
“I think this group stage is wide open now after the Croatia-Morocco result,” Herdman said. “Teams will know us now. The cover’s off, the teams will know what we do. Now we’re coming up against Croatia who have a midfield three to die for. If we can be more ruthless in attack, we’ll get something out of these games. The group is wide open.”
Canada captain Atiba Hutchinson shared his coach’s optimism for Sunday.
“It’s a difficult game but we showed today what we are capable of doing so we’ll go in there with the same mindset again and hopefully get a better result,” Hutchinson said.