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When did Canada last play in the FIFA World Cup?

With Canada set to clinch a spot in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, we’re looking back at the last time they made an appearance on the world’s biggest stage.

United States v Canada: 2022 World Cup Qualifying Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

March 27 update: Canada has qualified for the World Cup. The team beat Jamaica 4-0 to clinch an automatic berth. They can clinch first place in the group with ties or losses by the US and Mexico. They beat Jamaica 4-0, which gives them an eight goal lead in differential for the tiebreaker if needed.

The Canada Men’s National Team is on the brink of qualifying for their second-ever FIFA World Cup. They currently sit at the top of the table in the CONCACAF qualifiers, and a win on Thursday against Costa Rica would punch their ticket to Qatar in November.

With the Canadians set to make history, it’s worth a look back at the last time they were in the FIFA World Cup. To do that, we’ll have to go back 36 years.

1986 is the last time — and only time — the Canucks have made an appearance in the FIFA World Cup finals tournament. Aside from Mexico, who received an automatic berth for being the host country, Canada was the only team to qualify from CONCACAF after winning the final round group over Honduras and Costa Rica. They were drawn into Group C and would have to face off against the Soviet Union, France, and Hungary in Mexico.

It didn’t go well for the Canadians, as not only did they lose all three of their group stage games, but they failed to put a single goal in the back of the net.

They opened the campaign with a 1-0 loss to France, followed by a pair of 2-0 losses to Hungary and the Soviet Union. With those results, they finished not only at the bottom of the group, but at the bottom of the entire group stage with zero points and a goal differential of -5.

That would mark the start of a 36-year World Cup drought for the Canada Men’s National Team, which looks like it’s set to end this year. They’ve been the best team in CONCACAF through this round of World Cup qualifying, going unbeaten with a 7-4-0 record through the first 11 games of the final round. Heading into the final three matches, they sit at the top of the table with 25 points, four points clear of both USA and Mexico.

They’re just one win away from booking their spot in the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar, and they’ll look to get it done on the road in Costa Rica on Thursday.