The penalty kick decision remains after Canada's opening World Cup defeat to Belgium

Moments before the Canadian men were to play their first World Cup game in 36 years, Atiba Hutchinson, their 39-year-old captain, lay on the grass and stared into the stadium lights.

Hutchinson seemed understandably nervous after waiting so long for this evening. Or because the reward for his decades of patience was the game against Belgium, the second ranked team in the world.

He looked far from nervous. He looked calm. He looks happy. He half closed his eyes and smiled, looking very much like a man who had walked a million miles out to sea, and had just glimpsed water for the first time.

That's what experience gives you.

Even in cases like Hutchinson's at the World Cup - he's never done this, at this height - he's done something close to it dozens of times, and plausible facsimiles hundreds of times, and reduced versions of it thousands of times.

His much younger teammates, particularly those in goal-scoring charge, haven't done so. They are sometimes amazing, optimistic, confident on a really good night. They also lacked clinical, and Canada lost 1-0.

In the eighth minute, Tajon Buchanan had a shot which Belgian Yannick Carrasco blocked with his hands. Canada is awarded a penalty. Alphonso Davies lined up to take it.

Davies, in addition to having an excellent opportunity to lead his team, will also score the first goal for Canada in men's World Cup history. During Canada's only other appearance in the tournament in 1986, the men were eliminated in a three-game losing streak.

The referee seems to take a long time to arrange things. Davies waited, staring at the grass. Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, a giant in every way, was staring at him.

Last week in Dubai, Canada played one final tune-up, a friendly match against Japan. They were awarded a penalty in the dying seconds of stoppage time for a chance to win the match.

Jonathan David, who is on a goalscoring streak with Ligue 1 side Lille, looks poised to take it. Then Lucas Cavallini, El Tanque to his teammate, took the ball from him.

Head coach John Herdman looks at his bench. "If he tries Panenka, I will kill him," he said.

Cavallini did try the Panenka—a soft, looped shot in the middle of the net, designed to put the ball where diving goalkeepers used to use but no longer do. He barely scratched the ball over the line.

After that, Herdman shook his head, laughing sadly. "Just put it in the corner," he said then. "Hit as hard as you can, as low as you can into the corner. I don't know why we need to do that."

Herdman was then asked if he had a designated penalty taker.

"I think it's Jonny," he said, referring to David. Next, he was asked a very sophisticated question. If Canada is awarded a penalty against Belgium, will Herdman decide who takes it?

"No," he said. "I'll let the lads work it out. In the end, they played the game. I tried to micromanage as much as I could but you have to know their feelings."

Davies has taken two penalties in his career, both for Canada. He had made them both. David is 9-of-12 lifetime from the spot.

It's not perfect, but there's no denying it. And on a night like this — “You know the whole world is watching,” says Hutchinson — it's better.

Veteran Courtois, arguably the best goalkeeper on Earth, had anticipated both Davies and David might take penalties and had watched videos of their past attempts in preparation. Davies taking pictures has made his job easier.

For both of his penalties — in low stakes situations against the Cayman Islands and Curaçao — Davies has opened up his body and shot left, right of the keeper.

"So that's why I decided to go there," Courtois said afterwards.

Davies shot lightly, and didn't come close enough to the post - not a smashing volley into the corner Herdman set up in Dubai. It's also to his left, to Courtois' right. Courtois was there to deal with it.

Canada responded well to the setbacks – Davies among them. They are often the better team. But like a missed penalty, opportunity after opportunity was lost. Buchanan skidded past six yards. Stephen Eustáquio nutmegged the great Kevin De Bruyne and sent a beautiful ball into the box. David couldn't get over it.

In the end, Canada had 22 shots; only three found the target. The Belgians, praising their opponents and rebuking themselves after the game, had just nine attempts.

But critically, three of them also found the target, and one found the back of the net. Towards the end of the first half, Michy Batshuayi collected a perfect one-inch long ball from Toby Alderweireld and released it.

That's what experience gives you too.

Entering the match, Belgium has played a total of 104 World Cup matches, the most of all the teams competing in Qatar. Canadians have three.

The 101 game gap is unlikely to be closed, in one night, or in the next century.

But now Canada has four, and Hutchinson knows better than anyone how much that means.

"Learn from him," he said. "Take the positive side. And be ready for the next one."

World Cup Match No. 5 in men's history Canada will play Croatia on Sunday. Hopefully they get old between now and then, and they learn to see the net for the ocean. This article was written by EDUKASI CAMPUS. 

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