Zambrano, Canada already looking forward to 2026

Octavio Zambrano (pictured) was named Canada head coach on March 21, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Canada Soccer)

NEW YORK -- If Canada does get the nod to help organize the 2026 FIFA World Cup as part of a joint bid with the United States and Mexico, head coach Octavio Zambrano realizes his squad will face a great responsibility.

On Monday, the three CONCACAF members announced their intentions to combine efforts in order to host the world’s single-largest sporting event.

"It puts an onus on us as a country to prepare because even though we have Qatar in-between -- that is what we're aiming for -- we need to be prepared for this great show," Zambrano said. "We cannot disappoint in neither one of them. Certainly, this one particularly, is an event that Canada needs to show improvement, considerable improvement, and show that it belongs."

Qatar will host the competition in 2022, while the Canadians haven't qualified since the 1986 edition.

Zambrano was an LA Salsa assistant coach when the U.S. hosted the 1994 World Cup. The now defunct club, which was a member of the old American Professional Soccer League, even squared off against Brazil in friendlies prior to the final.

"Canada will benefit immensely because just as '94 signified a kind of game changer for the United States, likewise Canada," remarked Zambrano, adding that a professional league -- Canadian Premier League – is in the works. "We will have eight years of big play. This is very, very important because improvement of the U.S. national team is directly related to MLS and so will be for Canada, the World Cup, the CPL."

Canada will take its first steps under Zambrano in an international tournament this July at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

“The Gold Cup is a good tournament because we will get to see some of the young players who perhaps have not been part of the national team before,” he finished. “Canada is going through a generational change, so we have to make sure the guys who come after them are players of similar or better quality. That's a very difficult task because we're talking about world class players.”


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