🏅 MOTM: The Maple Leaf Maldini

Belgium needed a Thibaut Courtois penalty save and Michy Batshuayi’s goal against the run of play to overcome a spirited Canadian side in their World Cup opener.

And our Man of the Match is …

Kamal Miller (Canada)

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It might seem a little peculiar that you’d pick a defender from the losing side as the stand-out performer, and even more so when you consider they were partially to blame for the winning goal.

But that was the only foot (and head) that Kamal Miller put wrong during Canada’s first World Cup match in 36 years.

John Herdman’s side were scintillating against the team ranked as number 2 in the world by FIFA and fans across the Great White North will be able to hold their heads high despite their defeat.

Deploying a high line with a dynamic pressing game, Stephen Eustáquio ran much of the midfield play – contrary to his opposite number Kevin De Bruyne – whilst wide players such as Richie Laryea and Tajon Buchanan threatened down the flanks.

However, when possession was turned over and Belgium looked to attack they were thwarted time and time again by the 25-year-old CF Montréal defender.

🥹 So schön kann Hymne sein, Kamal Miller. 🥹#CAN #WeCAN #FIFAWorldCup

— FIFA Fussball-Weltmeisterschaft (@fifaworldcup_de) November 23, 2022

Clearly overcome by emotion during the national anthem Miller, who has had his fair share of ups and downs with Canada over the past couple of years, composed himself before putting in, arguably, one of the best performances of his career.

A goal-saving block from Batshuayi in the opening exchanges was met by a thunderous roar from the Canadian faithful who had travelled to Qatar as well as his goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

Although Miller was caught out with a ball over the top that would lead to the game’s only goal, a lot of Canada’s dominance and good play was built on the foundation of his defensive work.

Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies missed an early penalty and looked far from his best but with his teammates stepping up on the world’s biggest stage, Canada’s next two games are sure to make for great viewing.

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