The first major achievement for Canada Soccer (men) was winning the CONCACAF Championship in 1985, qualifying directly to World Cup México 1986.
CONCACAF Nations Cup 1985
The tournament consisted on three rounds. The first was a qualifying round, the second and third a group stage; every match was played home and away. There was a total of 17 National Teams.
Canada was paired with Jamaica in the first round, winning but not playing a single minute because their rivals were expelled. In the next stage, Canada was drawn with Guatemala and Haiti in Group 2. They did not lose any of their four matches, 3 victories and 1 draw, reaching the final phase of the tournament, facing the winners of the other two groups, Honduras and Costa Rica. Canada kept their unbeaten run in the decisive round, being triumphant in two matches and splitting the points in the other two.
World Cup Mexico 1986
Mike Sweeney, Bruce Wilson, Randy Samuel and a young Paul Dolan were some of the distinctive players representing the country; Tony Waiters the coach.
This was a major achievement for the country, filling 1 of only 24 spots available. Canada was drawn with France, Soviet Union and Hungary in Group C.
Their first match was against the powerful France, on June 1st in Estadio León. France was the strongest side of the group, with players such as Michel Platini and Jean-Pierre Papin, but Canada gave a fight, losing by a late goal.
The team lost to Hungary and the Soviet Union, by two nil both of the games, finishing last with no points and goals scored.
Tony Waiters said that a solid base of football was established, “we realize what we have to do to improve as a country”. Unfortunately, that was not the case, Canada has not qualified to any other World Cup.
[Images Property of Ficha Deportiva. Taken from Album Panini S.p.A. – Modena]