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WORLD CUP 2022

Canada will create a shock at the World Cup claims Bears' Cairo Santos

With a first World Cup spot since 1986 booked, Chicago Bears player Cairo Santos feels Canada could be dark horses at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Update:
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 27: Canada players Liam Fraser #8, Alistair Johnson #2, Tajon Buchanan #11 and teammates celebrate a goal by Junior Hoilett #10 during a 2022 World Cup Qualifying match against Jamaica at BMO Field on March 27, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario
Vaughn RidleyAFP

'Les Rouges' of Canada could cause an upset at the Qatar World Cup, with Chicago Bears kicker Cairo Santos suggesting they will "fly under the radar" in a similar fashion to Croatia.

The Maple Leafs secured a long-awaited return to the biggest tournament in world football with a 4-0 victory over Jamaica in Toronto on Sunday.

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 27: Canada fans celebrate after the final whistle following a 2022 World Cup Qualifying match against Jamaica at BMO Field on March 27, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images/AFP
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TORONTO, ON - MARCH 27: Canada fans celebrate after the final whistle following a 2022 World Cup Qualifying match against Jamaica at BMO Field on March 27, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images/AFPVaughn RidleyAFP

It ends a 36-year exodus from the World Cup, since Canada's only previous appearance was at Mexico 1986, where they lost all three group-stage matches without scoring against France, Hungary and the Soviet Union.

But Santos – the NFL's first Brazilian player and a keen footballer as a child – feels Canada will have nothing to prove to themselves when they step out onto the pitch later this year looking to make history, drawing comparisons with 2018 finalists Croatia.

"They're certainly a team that are going to be flying under the radar," Santos told Stats Perform. "They haven't been to the World Cup.

"The World Cup is part of some history that comes with a team, and when you step on the field, the history plays a big part, too.

"If they can be that story that we saw... Croatia kind of did that at the last World Cup. So, why not Canada? They've got some exciting players, too.

"I'll be following them. Maybe we'll see a US-Canada rivalry at some time in the World Cup, too. What a time that will be."

The United States will join Canada in the finals if they avoid a heavy defeat away to Costa Rica in their final CONCACAF qualifier.

USA and Canada, along with Mexico, are hosts of the 2026 World Cup, with their sides building towards that tournament in recent years.

Led by English coach John Herdman, Canada made the semi-finals of the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup in their best result in 14 years.