"Messi is football history. Everyone wants Messi to win cause it's his last World Cup," said Ismail Abu Shaweesh. Photo credit: Elio Elia

The biggest sporting event in the world, the FIFA World Cup, is making its return after a long four-year wait.

While soccer might not be the biggest sport in North America, there is no doubt it is the biggest globally, with an astonishing 3.6 billion people tuning in for the final of the previous World Cup. There is a lot of anticipation ahead of the tournament, which will be held in Qatar starting on Nov. 20.

Soccer is a sport on the rise in Canada, helped by the fact that for the first time in 36 years, the men’s national team will be in the World Cup.

At Algonquin College, soccer fans and are looking forward to the tournament.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I always supported Brazil,” said Yazan Qaddumi, a 19-year-old student in the heating, refrigeration and air conditioning technician program. “I think they’ll make it to the semi-final, but I think either France or Germany will be the winners in the end.”

Fellow student Msaed Alzuwaid feels the same way.

“I think France will win it,” said Alzuwaid, who is in the building construction technician program, and is rooting for the tournament hosts. “I’m hoping Qatar do well, maybe make it past the group stages.”

The upcoming World Cup will be the final international tournament for Argentinean captain Lionel Messi, who is widely considered to be the best to ever play the sport. The World Cup is the only trophy that has eluded the attacker, and many hope he finally achieves it.

Fitness and health promotion student Ismail Abu Shaweesh is one of those fans, and he’s supporting Argentina solely for that fact.

“I have been a Barcelona fan since I was young, and that essentially meant being a Lionel Messi fan as well,” Abu Shaweesh, 20, said. “Messi is football history. Everyone wants Messi to win cause it’s his last World Cup.”

“I think they could win it, but just to be realistic, I want to say they’ll reach the semi-final,” Abu Shaweesh said.

Canada’s national team is the strongest it has ever been, with players like Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David being some of the best in their positions. In the next 10 days, Canada will play Bahrain and Japan in friendly games before the tournament begins.

“Canada have done really well to prepare for the World Cup, and I’m really hoping they do well at the tournament itself,” said Matthew Gharib, another student in the building construction technician program.

Canada won’t have it easy being placed in a group with previous finalists Croatia and previous semi-finalists Belgium, which is currently ranked second in the FIFA men’s team global rankings. They will be joined by another strong team, Morocco.

“Unfortunately, I don’t see (Canada) getting past the group stages,” said Gharib. “To be honest, after how long it’s been, if they manage to make third place in their group I’d say it was good enough.”

Gharib’s fellow students Abu Shaweesh, Alzuwaid, and Qaddumi all felt similarly about Canada’s chances, with Qaddumi even saying he “loves Canada” but “they should stick to hockey.”