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Calgarians still stoked for Canada's World Cup return despite first-game loss

It wasn’t the start Canadian soccer fans were hoping for, but despite Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat to the world’s second-best side, Calgary supporters took away positives.

“We could come up against any team, and I think that we would perform and give them a run for their money,” said supporter Andrew MacDougall.

Another supporter was pleased with the effort by Canada against a global juggernaut.

“Maybe we didn’t capitalize on chances, but that’s because the team is young, they’re new, but oh, do they have heart,” said Pavit Sidhu.

For the first time in 36 years, Canada is represented at the World Cup, and many Calgarians made sure they had a prime spot to take in the action.

Thousands gathered at pubs across the city for Canada's first match of the tournament, with some diehard fans waiting outside the Ship & Anchor on 17 Avenue as early as six hours before the start of the match.

Nicola Trolez, spokesperson for the Ship & Anchor, says doors are opening at 5:30 a.m. for World Cup matches.

“This is a great opportunity to have business,” she said.

“It’s unfortunate that it is this time of year, so close to Christmas. It does make staffing an issue for many establishments.”

She adds that finally, Canadians can celebrate their own team.

“For many years, I think everybody has watched this competition that is a soccer fan and had a second team that they cheer for. This year, they get to cheer for their own,” said Trolez.

At SS106 Aperitivo Bar, Domenico Spadafora says fans from all countries are coming in, boosting business.

“Today at 6 a.m., we had some people, but about 9 a.m. is when the Canada fans came in. We’ve been full since and it’s been amazing,” he said.

Canada last competed in the World Cup in the Mexico tournament of 1986 and the team has never registered a goal in the event.

Edmonton’s Alphonso Davies missed a penalty in the 10th minute, which would have put the Canadians in front.

It was Michy Batshuayi for Belgium who converted on the brink of halftime, scoring the only goal of the game.

Defender Sam Adekugbe is from Calgary and was, to the surprise of many, removed from the starting lineup ahead of the match with Belgium.

He made a cameo appearance in the 74th minute, however, coming on as a substitute, much to the delight of his mother, Dee.

Canada takes on Croatia on Sunday, with kick-off set for 9 a.m. Top Stories

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