The article has a few inaccuracies and I especially have a problem with the second paragraph.
We've only made it to the finals once, in 1986, and the occasion produced faces as embarrassingly red as the Canadian jersey. No goals in three games and sent home disgraced.
You don't have to take my word for it, the Fifa reports from 1986 spell it out.
This is all of the information and photos taken from the four WC 1986 FIFA technical report pdfs regarding Canada.
Group Analysis: Group C
Canada started as rank outsiders to the tournament, Hungary had it their own way and the favourites-the USSR and France-asserted themselves.
All four teams had difficulties with the fields of play. At first the lawn was too high in both stadia. After having been cut time and again, it still proved to be too thick and too soft. Low passes lost speed and players who tried to dribble not rarely tripped over the ball. It impaired the quality of the games and for those players provided with brilliant skills it was an obvious handicap.
The Soviet side impressed the spectators by their pace, toughness in tackling, skill, tactical flexibility and determined putting away of chances.
Owing to an excellent skill of all team members, France displayed an elegant style of play and excelled by a great mutual understanding and their flair for a variable play. Against Canada and Hungary, the French seemed to play in third gear. In the encounter with the USSR, they proved to have tactical discipline and maturity.
Hungary disappointed all amateurs of football and could never recover from their 0:6 defeat against the Soviets. The Hungarian team performed far beneath their actual value, had forgotten all their virtues and made a depressed impression.
From the beginning, Canada had nothing to lose, ran and fought bravely and sold their skin dearly. But their abilities were clearly limited. Their finishing was insufficient. In return, they proved to be a real enrichment for the tournament thanks to their enthusiasm and their very refreshing style of play.
Canada surprised the experts. Particularly in the game against France they exceeded the expectations and only lost 0.1. Bridge and Samuel (below against Rocheteau) distinguished themselves especially by their excellent tackling. The participation of Canada proved to be a benefit to the World Cup Finals and will undoubtedly help to make soccer more popular in that country.
The North American Soccer League (NASL) was disbanded in the beginning of 1985. This also caused the dissolution of many professional clubs. The international players Wilson, Ragan, Samuel, James, Dolan and Habermann could not find a new club. Therefore, they were available to their national manager for a long preparation programme.
About half of the Canadian players got a job with clubs of the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) and thus were able to participate in the American indoors championship.
Three players found a job abroad: Bridge played at La Chaux-de-Fonds (Switzerland), Moore was under contract with Glentoran Belfast and Vrablic scored goals for Seraing in Belgium. Youngster Paul James was invited for a test training by Arsenal, but was not engaged.
The Canadian team was composed of players from various countries. Seven of the standard players were born abroad, emigrated to Canada later on and became naturalized: Gray and Norman came from Scotland, James from Wales, Lettieri was born in Italy and Samuel in Trinidad. Vrablic's country of origin was the CSSR and Segota came from Yugoslavia.
The team organization and the conception of play were typically British: a classic 4-4-2 system with an overall zonal marking.
Young Dolan guarded the goal in Canada's first game against France. In the following matches standard goalkeeper Lettieri was given preference again.
The four-man defense played three times in the same formation. The central defenders Bridge and Samuel covered each other in the middle. Lenarduzzi was used as right full-back. The team's senior and captain Wilson was charged with the position of the left full-back.
The indefatigable Ragan played in the left midfield during all the games. Although he did not have the qualities of a playmaker he was nevertheless the Canadians' central organizer and their driving force. He was supported by Gray in the encounters with Hungary and the USSR. Against France, Ragan was assisted by the talented James whose qualities as a slightly retreated right winger came to bear very well in this position.
Norman was given an offensive role on one of the flanks. Against France, Sweeney ran wide on the left side, operating as a retreated winger.
Three players were available for the two positions upfront. The lightning-quick Valentine was used in all three games. Vrablic, Canada's goal getter was nominated for the first two matches and was then replaced by Mitchell against the USSR.
The attacking play was based on the physical and mental qualities of the Canadians: fastness, stamina, running power and fighting spirit. They bridged the midfield as fast as possible and directly went for the opposing goal.
As soon as the defenders had conquered the ball, they tried to bring the forwards into action by long passes. The midfield players immediately followed up and tried to run clear. One of their main tasks was to chase or to fight for the rebounds in order to launch their strikers once again.
Other characteristics of the Canadian offensive play were swift runs down the flanks followed by sharp crosses and shots from all positions and distances. But in the penalty area the players mostly lacked vision and coolness. Some Canadians did not dispose of the necessary skill, an essential factor at full speed. This is also a reason why the Canadian team did not score one of their many opportunities.
The strong points of the Canadian team were undoubtedly to be found in defense. They were well organized at the back. The positional play of the defenders was next to perfect. Their mutual understanding proved to be very good. One really had the impression that this team have been built up over years, with only some few changes.
The physical qualities of the defenders proved to be quite useful in all their defensive actions. The two central defenders Bridge and Samuel could not be harassed by high crosses. Thanks to the well-trained abilities in tackling and the uncompromising commitment of all the defenders, the Canadians were able to stand their ground even against teams provided with superior skills without having to resort to unnecessary fouls.
Manager Waiters presented a well-balanced team with a good mutual understanding. They had their strong sides certainly in the mental field. The disciplined party was provided with an exceptional morale. Each player was willing to devote himself completely to the team. There was no other team at this World Cup tournament with such a highly developed feeling of solidarity.
Some players arrived in Mexico-coming from the Canadian indoors championship (sic) - just a few days before their first game and thus could hardly adapt themselves to the altitude. Nevertheless, the team appeared to be in good shape. The Canadians set a good example that even at top level it is possible to cope with difficult situations with determination and enthusiasm
Manager Waiters was clever enough to let his team perform their familiar soccer, regardless of altitude and heat. To play with a pressing means that all team members have to run a lot and that the harmony among them has to be excellent. As soon as the ball was lost, the opponents were attacked and put under pressure. For this reason, they had enormous difficulties to develop their own game and to find their rhythm.
Canada made great trouble to the French team and had to concede the crucial goal only ten minutes from time. Against Hungary, the Canadians assaulted continuously the opposing goal. It was only because of a lack in coolness and a great deal of bad luck that they did not win a point in their best game. The Soviets too were faced with some problems. It took them 60 minutes to break down the astonishing Canadians. Canada's first participation in the World Cup Finals must doubtlessly be regarded as a gain. The fighting spirit of all players, their commitment and enthusiasm deserve congratulations!
From left to right Wilson, Lenarduzzi, Valentine, Bridge, Ragan, James, Samuel, Norman, Sweeny, Vrablic, Dolan
Tony Waiters (49) was goalkeeper with the English First Division club Blackpool from 1957-69, with 257 first team appearances. Later on, he was transferred to Burnley where he finished his career as a player. He played five times for England: against Brazil, Wales, Ireland Rep., Belgium and the Netherlands.
Waiters began his career as a manager quite successfully: in 1973 he won the European Championships with the English youth team. In the same year he was appointed manager of the Third Division club Plymouth Argyle and managed to be promoted to the Second Division with this team in 1975.
In 1977 Waiters went to Canada. With the Vancouver Whitecaps he was at the same time president, general manager and coach. In 1979 this team became champions of the NASL.
In 1983 he took over the Canadian national team, working at the same time in an advisory capacity for the Canadian Soccer Association. Canada qualified for the soccer tournament of the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984. After a victory over Cameroon (3:1), a draw against Iraq (1:1) and a defeat against Yugoslavia (0:1), Canada achieved the Quarter-Finals. The game against Brazil ended in a draw (1:1), Canada lost the shoot-out and were eliminated.
The Canadian youth team managed to qualify for two World Youth Championships (WYC). At the WYC '79 in Japan, Canada caused a great surprise with a 3:1 victory over Portugal.
After losing to Korea Rep. (0:1) and to Paraguay (0:3) the Canadian side were eliminated. Four players from the select team for Mexico were first string players of that youth national team: Bridge, Gray, Segota and Sweeney.
From the team participating in the WYC '85 in USSR no players were admitted to Canada's Mexico team. No less than 13 players, however, were already present at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Canada v. France 0:1 (0:0)
June 1/1986 4:00 pm Leon, Nou Camp Stadium
Canada: Dolan - Lenarduzzi, Bridge, Samuel, Wilson - Norman,
James (82' Segota), Ragan, Sweeney (54' Lowery) -Vrablic, Valentine
France: Bats -Amoros, Battiston, Bossis,Tusseau-Tigana,
Giresse, Platini, Fernandez- Rocheteau (70' Stopyra), Papin
Referee: H. Silva Arce, Chile
Linesmen: R. Mendez Molina, Guatemala, B. Ulloa Morera, Costa Rica
Goals: 79' Papin 0:1
There are many roads to success and not only a single one; this is also true with football. Canada and France demonstrated this in their opening game of Group C quite clearly.
As it was to be expected the Canadians played rather "British". Starting with much self-confidence they were very strong in their tackles, superior in the air and tried to demonstrate a simple attacking play. The French seemed to be surprised by this resistance.
The European Champions, being undoubtedly superior with regard to skill and international experience, were not able to determine the rhythm of the game for a longer time. The resolute tackling of the Canadian athletes, their long passes from the solid defense, the swift moves on the wing, the sharp crosses and shots from all positions and distances disconcerted the French time and again. At the end, however, Papin's goal gave France a highly deserved 1:0 victory, due to the fact that Fernandez, Platini, Giresse, Tigana and Papin had definitely more scoring chances than their opponents Norman, Wilson, Bridge, Valentine and Vrablic.
Hungary v. Canada 2:0 (1:0)
June 6/1986 12:00 pm Irapuato, Irapuato Stadium
Hungary: Szendrei - Kardos - Sallai, Nagy (62' Dajka), Garaba, Varga - Burcsa (28' Roth), Detari, Bognar- Kiprich, Esterhazy
Canada: Lettieri - Lenarduzzi, Bridge, Samuel, Wilson (40' Sweeney) - James (53' Segota), Gray, Ragan, Norman -Valentine, Vrablic
Referee: J. AI-Sharif, Syria
Linesmen: Z . Petrovic, Yugoslavia; C. Bambridge, Australia
Goals: 2' Esterhazy 1:0; 75' Detari 2:0
Cautions: Sweeney (52'), Lenarduzzi (83')
Expulsions: Sweeney (85')
Anxiety is a bad precondition for success. The shock of the high defeat against USSR had obviously developed into a nightmare in the Hungarian team.
Even after an early 2nd minute lead by Esterhazy the players at times seemed to be paralyzed, anxious and helpless.
The Canadians played recklessly and embarrassed the Hungarian defense time and again. Hungary was lucky that the Canadians showed poor finishing abilities and gave away all their chances. If they had succeeded in equalizing, the Canadians could have even won the game.
When Hungary were close to a breakdown, Detari launched with a well-timed pass Kiprich whose shot bounced back from the goalkeeper but Detari, having followed the action, sent it in scoring the decisive 2:0. Now the Hungarians finally lost all their anxiety. They showed flowing combinations and proved to be excellent football players.
USSR v. Canada 2:0 (0:0)
June 9/1986 12:00 pm Irapuato, Irapuato Stadium
USSR: Chanov- Bubnov- Bal, Kuznetsov, Morozov- Litovchenko, Aleinikov, Yevtushenko, Rodionov- Protasov (57' Belanov), Blokhin (61' Zavarov)
Canada: Lettieri - Lenarduzzi, Bridge, Samuel, Wilson -James (64' Segota), Ragan, Gray (69' Pakos) - Valentine, Mitchell
Referee: I. Traoré, Mali
Linesmen: F. AI-Shanar, Saudi Arabia; G. Gonzalez Roa, Paraguay
Goals: 58' Blokhin 1:0; 74' Zavarov 2 :0
In their third game, the Russians gave Blokhin and Protasov an opportunity to play. Some players from Dynamo Kiev, who have had a very hard season, could so enjoy a welcome rest. The changes in the line-up had some effects on the performance of the Soviets. Canada were a difficult opponent, displaying a great deal of determination, willpower and concentration. They also contributed to a good and fair atmosphere.
The maturity in the game of USSR was shown in the second-half by flowing combinations and superior individual performances. The effectiveness of the Russian attacks was increased in particular after Belanov had replaced Protasov. It was Belanov who prepared the first goal scored by Blokhin (58th minute). Immediately afterwards Blokhin had to be replaced. His substitute, Zavarov, scored the second goal, which meant at the same time that USSR had won their group. Canada's brave performances in all their games should actually be a big additional motivation for the further improvement of football in that country.