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All signs point to Canada winning the Concacaf Nations League

In the grand history of Concacaf, there's never before been a tournament where our gladiators have entered the arena and spectators have murmured amongst each other: "See them there? Them's Canada. They're going to slaughter everyone." 

At least not since Craig Forrest was standing between the sticks. 

But the Canucks enter the 2023 Concacaf Nations League Finals as the clear favorite over Panama on Thursday in the semis, and then the championship game against either the USMNT or Mexico awaits at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Canada won't fear either opponent in the final. Unlike El Tri and the USA, Canada has the continuity of John Herdman as manager. He led the nation to the top of The Ocho during qualifying for the 2022 World Cup but now has to show that he can elevate the team further after losing every match in Qatar.

Panama is the perfect opening test: Los Canaleros love playing the spoiler and recorded an impressive win in Costa Rica (something the U.S. could never do) to get here. There's a chance Canada could actually find the final easier since that's when they'll be able to unleash their talent in transition.

In all the coverage we devote to American and Mexican talent abroad, it's flown under the radar how impressive Canada's stars were in 2022-23. Here are the notable performers from their Nations League squad.    

Canucks abroad 2022-23 

GK Milan Borjan: Captained SuperLiga champions Red Star Belgrade, starting 28 of 30 league matches and six Europa League games.

RB Alistair Johnston: Joined Celtic in January and played a key role in the club's domestic treble while starting the Scottish FA Cup and League Cup finals.

LB Sam Adekugbe: Won the Süper Lig with Galatasaray.

CB Steven Vitória: The 36-year-old scored seven goals in 31 Primeira Liga matches with Chaves. Not bad for a center back. 

CM Stephen Eustáquio: Porto finished second in the Primeira Liga but won the Taça de Portugal, Taça da Liga and Supertaça while reaching the UCL last-16. Eustáquio made 44 appearances across all those comps while scoring seven goals and creating six.

CM Atiba Hutchinson: Finished his 10th and final season with Beşiktaş. The 40-year-old is retiring from football after this tournament, so he's leaving everything out there like Zidane at the '06 World Cup.  

CM Ismaël Koné: The 20-year-old joined Championship side Watford in January and made 16 appearances with one assist.

RW Tajon Buchanan: The 24-year-old played a big part in Brugge's trip to the UCL last-16, registering two assists in the competition, and he scored one and created four more in 22 Belgian Pro League games.

ST Cyle Larin: Joined Real Valladolid in January and almost kept the club in LaLiga with eight goals and three assists in 19 games.

ST Jonathan David: The 23-year-old was again a monster for Lille in Ligue 1 with 24 goals and four assists in 37 games. Arsenal want him.

LW Alphonso Davies: Another year at Bayern Munich, another Bundesliga title. He missed the end of the season with a muscle strain but the 22-year-old is ready to go now. 

I've frightened myself. If B.J. Callaghan beats these guys, then I vote he gets the job.

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