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Alphonso Davies has been declared fit by head coach John Herdman for Canada's clash with Belgium on their return to the World Cup stage.

The Bayern Munich left-back's participation in Qatar was in doubt after he sustained a hamstring injury against Hertha Berlin on November 5.

Davies sat out Bayern's final two matches prior to the mid-season break and Herdman said at the weekend he was unsure exactly when the 22-year-old would return.

However, in a huge boost for Canada ahead of Wednesday's Group F showdown with Belgium at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Herdman has confirmed Davies is ready to feature.

"You've just got to go through the algorithms they put in front of you to progress to hit top speed, which he's hit," Herdman said at Tuesday's pre-match press conference.

"He's been clear he wanted to play. He's been in full training and got that big smile on his face, so that's great.

"I don't think there'd be any doubt we'd be starting him, but you've got to follow the medical advice. Our goal first and foremost is always the safety of the players.

"As a coach you're always frustrated when you get the reports in and all the algorithms on returning to play, what they can and can't do and loadings, et cetera.

"But when you speak to the player you have to look into their eyes and get a sense of what they want, how far they're willing to push, and you've got to ask the questions.

"If not the first game, then what's the risk for the second game? At the end of the day, he's fit now, he's hit his markers, he's ready to go. He was flying in training yesterday."


Canada are back at the World Cup following a 36-year absence – the second-longest gap between participations of any nation at this year's tournament behind only Wales (64 years).

The Reds topped their CONCACAF qualifying group while scoring the most goals in the final round (23) and conceding the fewest (seven).

Herdman also provided positive updates on the fitness of Stephen Eustaquio and Milan Borjan ahead of facing a Belgium side ranked second in FIFA's world rankings.

"I think we're in a position now where we can field our strongest team," he said. "Everyone's come through training. 

"It's exciting times for us now – the dark clouds have shifted. This is our last training session together and we'll all be 100 per cent."

Canada lost their only previous meeting with Belgium 2-0 in an Ottawa friendly 33 years ago.

Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen was bemused by FIFA's decision to ban several European teams from wearing the OneLove armband – an anti-discriminatory symbol – at the World Cup.

The OneLove campaign, which promotes "inclusion and sends a message against discrimination of any kind", had grown in significance ahead of the tournament in Qatar, partly due to the country's criminalisation of homosexuality.

Belgium were one of seven European teams to back the initiative, which involved captains wearing a special OneLove armband that features a multi-coloured heart.

But after discussions between FIFA and an alliance of football associations – England, Wales, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands – a joint statement was released on Monday confirming all teams had pulled out due to the governing body's threat to book players wearing the armband.

FIFA has received widespread criticism as a result of their stance, while the countries in question have attracted flak for wilting under pressure.

Vertonghen seemed perplexed by FIFA opposing messages of solidarity.

Speaking ahead of Belgium's Group F opener against Canada on Wednesday, Vertonghen said: "It's a tough question. If it's too late [to make a statement against discrimination], I don't know. If you make a statement now by wearing it, that would mean punishing yourself.

"But now I'm afraid to say anything. I don't feel comfortable saying anything, and that's telling enough, that we are put under pressure.

"That's a regrettable situation that I've never experienced in football and I hope I won't experience again.

"We are being controlled and I don't really like making political statements anyway, but if you can't even wear a captain's armband with normal messages like 'no to racism', or 'no to discrimination', then hey, then what [can you say]?

"I shouldn't be saying anything about it because tomorrow I want to appear at the game. It's a pity that we have been put in this situation, and I want to leave it at that."

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez was also asked about the ban of the OneLove armband, and while he did not offer an opinion on it, he emphasised the work his team have put in familiarising themselves with the controversies surrounding Qatar's hosting of the tournament.

"As a federation and group we've been proactive for last two years, it's not a case of arriving and then catching up on what's happening. We respected everyone's views, worked together with professionals who knew the situations," Martinez said.

"Yesterday there was a clear statement by the federations, and at this point we just want to talk about football, we're desperate to be on the pitch.

"We just want to create a wonderful story, story of a lifetime. That's the only thing we want to be focusing on now."

Andreas Cornelius missed a golden chance as Tunisia claimed a hard-fought point in a battling 0-0 draw with Denmark at the World Cup.

Euro 2020 semi-finalists Denmark have been labelled by some as dark horses for glory in Qatar, but they were given a stern test by Tunisia.

With the backing of huge, vociferous support at Education City Stadium on Tuesday, Tunisia could easily have taken more from the Group D opener, with Kasper Schmeichel making a brilliant save to deny Issam Jebali in the first half.

Cornelius' miss from point-blank range summed up a frustrating day for Denmark, while Tunisia survived a late check for handball in the area against Yassine Meriah.

A positive Denmark start only further jeered up a fervent Tunisia crowd, which cheered Aissa Laidouni's full-blooded tackle on Christian Eriksen like a goal.

There seemed a real goal to revel in when Jebali got in behind and finished brilliantly, but the offside flag cut short Tunisia's celebrations.

Jebali stayed onside for the best opportunity of the half, with Schmeichel rushing out to make a wonderful save from the forward's chip.

After Andreas Skov Olsen had a goal disallowed for offside, Aymen Dahmen's superb save denied Christian Eriksen a spectacular strike, though Denmark should have been ahead from the resulting corner.

Substitute Cornelius somehow headed onto the post from less than a yard out, with Tunisia racing up the other end and claiming for a handball in the box by Joachim Andersen.

With those appeals falling on deaf ears, Tunisia seemed set to suffer a cruel blow when the ball hit Meriah's arm in stoppage time, but referee Cesar Arturo Ramos decided against awarding a penalty after consulting the pitch-side monitor.

Lionel Messi says Argentina have "no excuses" after they fell to a hugely disappointing 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in their World Cup opener at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday.

Argentina headed into the tournament as one of the favourites to win their third title, and a Messi penalty put La Albiceleste a goal to the good at half-time as they appeared to be cruising to a first victory in Group C.

However, two goals in the space of five minutes from Saleh Al Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari completely flipped the script, and Messi's side were condemned to one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history.

Messi acknowledged he and his team-mates must not seek to justify the stunning loss, though he hoped it would end up bringing the group closer together.

"There are no excuses," Messi told reporters in a post-match news conference.

"It's a very hard blow for everyone, we didn't expect to start like this.

"We are going to be more united than ever. This group is strong and they have shown it.

"This is a situation that we did not have to go through in a long time. Now we have to show that this is a real group.

"Things happen for a reason. We have to prepare for what's coming, we have to win and it depends on us."

After Messi converted from the spot to put Argentina 1-0 up after just 10 minutes, Lionel Scaloni's men remarkably saw three goals chalked off for offside before half-time as Saudi Arabia employed a bravely high line.

The Paris Saint-Germain star complimented Herve Renard's side for their defending, but conceded Argentina could have done more to break through.

Messi said: "We knew that [Saudi] Arabia is a team with good players, that moves the ball well and that advances the [defensive] line a lot.

"We had worked on it, but that's why we had many goals ruled out. Perhaps we did not find the right moment to avoid falling into the trap."

The defeat ended a run of 36 matches unbeaten, and Messi feels La Albiceleste need to get the fundamentals right to bounce back and salvage their World Cup campaign.

"It's the first game," Messi added. "It's up to us to correct what we did wrong, [and] try to get back to the base of who we are."

Argentina now face Mexico in a crucial clash on Saturday, before their group stage ends against Poland on November 30.

Argentina's World Cup hopes took a shuddering blow in their Qatar 2022 opener as they were sensationally beaten 2-1 by Saudi Arabia.

Having won the Copa America last year and embarked on a 36-match unbeaten run, La Albiceleste arrived in Qatar as one of the favourites to be crowned world champions.

Lionel Messi's penalty gave them an early lead in their first Group C match at Lusail Stadium, but second-half goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari ensured Saudi Arabia pulled off a huge upset.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at five of the other monumental World Cup shocks over the years.

Senegal 1-0 France (Korea/Japan 2002)

Perhaps the all-time upset in World Cup history, France headed to the 2002 edition four years on from a triumph on home soil with a squad brimming with talent and set on defending their crown.

Yet in the opening match, Les Bleus - without talisman Zinedine Zidane - were stunned by Senegal, the competition's lowest-ranked side, thanks to Papa Bouba Diop's first-half finish in Seoul.

France went on to finish bottom of Group A with just a draw against Uruguay to their name, and failing to score a single goal.

North Korea 1-0 Italy (England 1966)

Arriving in Europe for their first appearance at the World Cup, North Korea were widely expected to make an early exit after a defeat to the Soviet Union and a draw with Chile.

But Pak Doo-ik made history when his lone goal saw them shock two-time winners Italy at Ayresome Park in Middlesbrough.

North Korea have only been back to the World Cup once, at South Africa 2010, where they scored once and conceded a dozen, finishing bottom of Group G.

Cameroon 1-0 Argentina (Italy 1990)

This is not the first time La Albiceleste have been involved in one of the most unexpected results at a World Cup, having been stunned in the first match of their title defence over three decades ago.

Argentina arrived at Italia 90 looking to defend the crown Diego Maradona guided them to four years prior, but Francois Omam-Biyik's 67th-minute goal at San Siro left them shell-shocked.

USA 1-0 England (Brazil 1950)

Heading into their tournament debut in South America, England were fancied to make a big impact, particularly when they came up against a United States team dominated by part-timers.

But a goal for Joe Gaetjens made history for the USA, bringing England back down to earth after they started with a 2-0 win over Chile.

Walter Winterbottom's men were then on their way home after slumping to a 1-0 loss at the hands of Spain.

Northern Ireland 1-0 Spain (Spain 1982)

Fondly remembered four decades down the line, Northern Ireland's win against tournament hosts Spain ranks among the greatest in their history, as they defied the odds in Valencia.

Gerry Armstrong's goal early in the second half put then in front and although Mal Donaghy was shown a red card, Billy Bingham's team hung on to deliver an almighty upset.

Lionel Scaloni quickly turned his focus towards Argentina's next game against Mexico as he struggled to come to terms with their sensational defeat to Saudi Arabia.

Argentina are the reigning South American champions and were on a 36-match unbeaten run – one short of Italy's record – going into their World Cup opener.

But a series of disallowed goals meant they could not build on Lionel Messi's early penalty, and Saudi Arabia netted twice in quick succession after half-time to claim a famous 2-1 win.

The Albiceleste have no room for error now, facing Mexico on Saturday and then Poland next Wednesday – their final two Group C opponents set to begin their campaigns against one another later on Tuesday.

"It's difficult to digest," Scaloni said. "In four, five minutes, they scored two goals, two out of two shots on goal.

"But we will have to bounce back from this defeat and prepare the next two matches. We do not have to analyse more than that.

"It's a sad day, but as we always say: head held high. We have to bounce back."

He added: "There is nothing we can do. If we had won, we would also be waking up tomorrow thinking about the game tomorrow against Mexico and thinking about different aspects we can improve. This doesn't change our analysis."

The Argentina players, like Scaloni, were still in shock, as the coach said: "I've not spoken to them yet, because they are in pain, to be honest.

"They are thinking about how we can turn things around. It's all about winning the next games, and that's what we are trying to do."

Scaloni praised Saudi Arabia's offside trap, a tactic he insisted Argentina were prepared for.

Indeed, the Albiceleste coach was adamant their opponents had not been underestimated.

"No, we fully respect Saudi Arabia. That wasn't the reason behind this defeat," Scaloni said. "Quite on the contrary, they are a good team, they have technical players, they are very well prepared physically."

Herve Renard acknowledged Saudi Arabia benefited from an 'off day' for Argentina in their "crazy" World Cup win.

Saudi Arabia came from behind to sensationally shock the South American champions 2-1 in their Group C opener at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday.

Argentina led through Lionel Messi's 10th minute penalty and had a further three goals disallowed in the first half.

"If we conceded a second goal, I think this game is finished," said Saudi Arabia coach Renard, adding he was "not happy" with the first-half display from his team.

"The determination was not good," he said. "At a World Cup, you have to give everything, because we cannot play how we played in the first half."

After the break, however, Saudi Arabia caught the Albiceleste out twice in quick succession, scoring through Saleh Al Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari to turn the match on its head and secure a lead they defended bravely until the final whistle.

Renard thanked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for not "putting too much pressure" on his side, explaining that helped Saudi Arabia to prepare "very well".

"And today," he added. "All the stars in the sky were in the same line for us.

"But don't forget Argentina is still a fantastic team. They came here without losing in 36 games.

"They are South American champions, they have amazing players, but this is football, sometimes it can happen – things that are crazy."

Renard could understand why Argentina underperformed in a game in which they were huge favourites.

"Can you imagine Lionel Messi playing against Saudi Arabia? He will say they have to start well, but the motivation is not like when he plays Brazil," Renard said. "This is football.

"We made history for Saudi Arabia. This will stay forever. This is important.

"But we need to think about moving forward. We still have two games that are very difficult for us."

Renard added: "Anything can happen. You can win the first game and not qualify. You can lose the first game and be world champion for Argentina. It's possible.

"Let's enjoy this competition and be ready for the second game."

Wales football chiefs are demanding answers from FIFA after fans were told to remove and discard rainbow-coloured hats before going into the World Cup game against the United States.

The Wales team's LGBTQ+ supporters group, known as the Rainbow Wall, has representation in Qatar, and its bucket hats were being worn by a number of fans arriving at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Monday.

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) said it had played a part in the Rainbow Wall bucket hats being created and was "extremely disappointed" female fans were instructed to give up the items.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the FAW said: "The FAW has collated information on these alleged incidents and will be addressing this matter directly with FIFA today."

Former Wales footballer Laura McAllister was among those affected and told the BBC the security was "pretty heavy-handed", although she "snuck" her hat into the stadium.

The FAW has itself faced criticism from the Rainbow Wall group after backing down in the face of FIFA opposition to captain Gareth Bale wearing a 'OneLove' armband during the USA game.

Fearing Bale might be yellow-carded for wearing the armband, which would have been in defiance of instruction from tournament organisers, Wales opted against taking the planned stance.

The 'OneLove' gesture in Qatar was intended as a show of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, in a country where same-sex sexual activity is criminalised.

Wales were among seven European teams that had planned to field their captain in the armband before jointly electing not to do so after being made aware of possible ramifications from world governing body FIFA.

The Rainbow Wall group said that "a huge opportunity had been missed for the FAW to send a message of solidarity inclusion; not only for LGBTIQ+ people in Wales, but also for LGBTIQ+ people in Qatar who face criminalisation, surveillance, violence and fear in their own country".

In a statement, the group added: "Later in the day we were appalled to see Rainbow Wall bucket hats confiscated by security from female fans as they entered the stadium for the USA v Wales game.

"Allyship sometimes means having uncomfortable conversations and standing up for what you believe in. We hope the FAW will be able to make an alternative and meaningful show of solidarity for LGBTIQ+ people over the coming weeks in Qatar."

Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk has hit back at accusations that not wearing OneLove at the World Cup showed a lack of "backbone".

It was confirmed on Monday that skippers of the Oranje, England, Wales, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland would not don the armband in Qatar.

That came after FIFA threatened to book captains if they broke regulations and made their own statements on social issues, rather than following guidelines from the game’s governing body.

OneLove, which promotes "inclusion and sends a message against discrimination of any kind", has grown in significance in the build-up to the tournament in a country where homosexuality is illegal.

The European nations were critcised for not going through with their pledge to wear the armbands, but Van Dijk believes it is unfair to be accused of being spineless after the Oranje started the tournament with a 2-0 win over Senegal.

He told Dutch broadcaster NOS: "I play in a position where a yellow card is not useful. I became a football player and I want to play these kind of tournaments.

"There are people who say we don't have a backbone, but that's not how it works.

"We just want to play football. I would have loved to play with that band, but not at the expense of a yellow card."

It has been reported that captains could have faced a one-match ban if they had worn the OneLove armband.

Lautaro Martinez put Argentina's stunning 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in their World Cup Group C opener on Tuesday down to their own "mistakes".

Lionel Messi put La Albiceleste ahead early on from the penalty spot at Lusail Stadium, but two goals in the space of five second-half minutes from Saleh Al Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari completed one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history.

Martinez, who had two efforts ruled out for offside with the score at 1-0, lamented his side's sloppiness and says their focus needs to turn immediately to their two remaining Group C games against Mexico and Poland.

"We lost the game due to our mistakes more than anything in the second half," he said. "In the first half we had to score more than one goal, but this is the World Cup.

"Now to rest and think about what is coming. It's two big games now. Mexico and Poland are going to make difficult rivals, as it was today too. 

"In the second half we made mistakes; we have to correct that for what is to come.

"The defeat hurts a lot. We wanted to start by winning, but it's over. We need to think about the games that are coming."

The defeat was Argentina's first since July 2019, when they lost 2-0 to Brazil, ending a run of 36 matches unbeaten.

The result saw Lionel Scaloni's men lose a World Cup match after scoring the first goal for the first time since 1958 against Germany, while it was the first time they lost after leading at half-time since the 1930 final against Uruguay.

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