Islanders cheer on Canada at South Island FIFA World Cup viewing parties

Islanders cheer on Canada at South Island FIFA World Cup viewing parties
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Island soccer fans filled bars in downtown Victoria to cheer on Canada's men's team in their first World Cup game in 36 years.

Wednesday was an exciting day to be a soccer fan in Canada, and a day some fans have been waiting their entire lives for.

Team Canada’s men’s team took the field at the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 36 years, and some downtown Victoria bars were packed with fans, including George Pakos.

Pakos, from Esquimalt, was part of the first Canadian men’s team to ever play in the World Cup, scoring the opening goal in Newfoundland, Canada’s clinching victory to qualify for FIFA World Cup Mexico 1986.

“Just to be part of the group that made it into the first World Cup is fantastic,” says Pakos.

Like so many others watching coast to coast, Pakos has been waiting for the teams’ big return ever since.

“Back in the 80s, you know it wasn’t a big thing in Canada, it was mostly hockey, lacrosse, and stuff like that,” says Pakos. “This is a special group of players, they got a couple of old guys, we had a bunch of old guys, but these guys are going to be around for the next two, three, or four World Cups, so Canada’s going to be represented really well in the future.”

Today, Canada had the chance to score World Cup goal, but unfortunately, no luck. Start, Alphonso Davies was shunned by the Belgium goaltender.

Belgium, the second-ranked team in the world and current favourite would go on to take the game 1-0.

But, despite the upset many Island fans are still excited to see the red and white back on the world stage.

“It’s a special day for soccer in Canada, we are a huge underdog right now so if the result is not there it still brings fans and brings soccer to the community,” says Brad Norris-Jones, the vice president of operations for Pacific FC.

Canada will now face Croatia Sunday at 8:00 a.m. PST.

READ MORE: Canadian men push Belgium to the limit but lose 1-0 in return to World Cup

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