The wait is over.

At long last, Canada makes its return to the men's World Cup on Wednesday, ending a 36-year hiatus with a glamorous matchup against Belgium, the second-ranked team in the world.

Despite facing Group F's most illustrious member in the opening match – and the obvious leap in quality that entails for John Herdman's side coming out of CONCACAF – the Canadians are confident they can do more than just cause problems for the aging Red Devils; they're aiming for an enormous upset – full stop.

What exactly will Canada need to do to accomplish that? Below, we examine three key questions heading into the contest.


Can Davies play 90 minutes?

Amid lingering fitness concerns for several players over the last week – including goalkeeper Milan Borjan, captain Atiba Hutchinson, and midfield conductor Stephen Eustaquio – the status of Alphonso Davies has, obviously, been the glaring question mark. The rapid 22-year-old insists he's "ready to start" at the Al-Rayyan Stadium despite his late arrival in Qatar; Davies spent extra time recovering at Bayern Munich after suffering a hamstring injury two weeks ago that had the entire nation holding its collective breath.

Herdman, too, seemed to allay concerns Tuesday when he told reporters that all of his players – Davies included – "came through" late fitness tests ahead of the match. "We can field our strongest team," he said with a wry smile. How much of that is posturing in a bid to keep Belgium counterpart Roberto Martinez honest? After all, every edge counts. Psychological warfare can't be discounted.

If Herdman opts not to risk Davies from the opening whistle, Canada could use a 4-4-2 setup similar to the one it deployed in its final pre-tournament friendly against Japan. Davies missed that match, opening the door for versatile veteran Junior Hoilett to start on the left side of midfield. Playing strikers Jonathan David and Cyle Larin together would help occupy Belgium's three center-backs, too, which could create more openings out wide for either Hoilett or Tajon Buchanan to exploit.

Further back, Alistair Johnston is more than comfortable sliding over to a more traditional right-back role, where he plays frequently for club side CF Montreal.