Canada reaches final round of World Cup qualifying for 1st time since 1997

Omar Vega / Getty Images Sport / Getty

For the first time since 1997, Canada has advanced to the final stage of qualifying for the men's World Cup.

The Canadians beat Haiti 3-0 on Tuesday night, sealing a 4-0 aggregate victory after winning the first-leg tilt in Port-au-Prince last week.

Cyle Larin and Junior Hoilett found the net at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois, but the match will be remembered for a mind-blowing own goal by Haitian 'keeper Josue Duverger in the early minutes of the second half.

The incredible blunder opened the scoring on the evening before Larin and Hoilett ensured there would be no comeback in the second-round qualifier.

John Herdman's team, ranked No. 70 in the world, will now enter the final round of CONCACAF qualifying that's comprised of eight nations, including the region's perennial powers.

Canada joins the United States, Mexico, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, and El Salvador in the Octagonal stage.

Play is scheduled to begin in September.

Every team will play one another home and away - coronavirus restrictions pending - and the top three nations will earn tickets to Qatar for next year's World Cup. The fourth-place team will enter an intercontinental playoff.

Canada hasn't featured at the men's World Cup since its lone appearance in 1986. The nation will co-host the 2026 edition of the tournament but now has a chance to accelerate the process of competing on the world stage.

"At the end of the day, we know 2026 will happen, but 2022 is something that we're aiming for right now," defender Alistair Johnston told the Canadian Press ahead of Tuesday's match. "That's where all of our focus is as a team, as a group."

Johnston and Co. are now one step closer to making the dream a reality.

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Canada reaches final round of World Cup qualifying for 1st time since 1997
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