National coach sees hosting as ‘fantastic’ for Canada
The prospect of coaching a World Cup on home soil helped draw John Herdman to leave his New Zealand coaching job to take over the Canadian women.
“Are we the favourites for this event? No,” Herdman told a news conference in Edmonton in June 2015 on the eve of his Canadian team kicking off the Women’s World Cup. “Can we get on a roll in this tournament with our country behind us? Yes.”
Inspire the nation was the Canadian women’s mantra three years ago. Now Herdman, in charge of the Canadian men’s program, has another home soccer showcase to look forward to in the wake of Wednesday’s vote awarding the 2026 men’s World Cup to the joint North American bid of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
“It’s fantastic. It’s big moment, a huge moment,” Herdman said in an interview. “I thought the Women’s World Cup in 2015 would be sort of the pinnacle of being part of Canadian football. But this is just massive for our country. I think we all know the impact this will have both on and off the field.
“So to be part of it, to be able to contribute some way, some how, it’s a privilege and an honour.”
FIFA and CONCACAF have yet to say whether all three co-hosts will have automatic qualification for 20236 as is the norm. Given the expanded field of 48 teams - and seven slots for CONCACAF in 2026 as compared to 3 1/2 in the current smaller 32-team version - and the fact that the home teams will sell tickets, it would be a stunner if they weren’t a prominent feature.
Herdman has his eyes on another World Cup as well.
“Look, I hope I’m going to be part of the men’s one in Qatar 2022,” he said.
Herdman says his current crop of players has a “deepburning desire” to qualify for Qatar. Canada has only made one men’s World Cup - in 1986 in Mexico when it lost three straight without scoring a goal.
But he says the successful World Cup bid “changes the landscape,” offering youth something to shoot for as well as “clarity to all of those people who are passionate about our game.”