Canada qualified for the Olympic quarter finals for the first time in 1984, thanks to an outstanding display against Cameroon and almost advanced to the semifinal but were eventually eliminated in a shoot out. For many years Olympic soccer had been restricted to purely amateur players, but starting with the 1984 games, all that changed. Canada, after playing its first two games of qualifying against Bermuda, with an amateur team, was permitted to field its full national team in the games against Mexico, Costa Rica and Cuba that led to its eventual qualification. In the final rounds of a competition that was staged in four different venues across the United States, Canada was drawn in a group that included Iraq, Yugoslavia and Cameroon. At the start of qualifying Canada beat Bermuda in Burnaby B.C. 6-0 while the return game, played in Hamilton, Bermuda ended in
a 1-1 tie. The second round of qualifying was much more difficult and opened in Victoria with a narrow 1-0 win over Mexico, followed by a defeat in Toluca where Mexico won 2-1. A 0-0 tie with Costa Rica, in San Jose, followed, then came a 3-0 win over Cuba in Victoria. A second scoreless tie with Costa Rica in Victoria, along with Cuba's withdrawal, qualified Canada for the Olympic finals. In the finals Canada opened against the national team of Iraq at Harvard Stadium in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A difficult game ended 1-1 with Gerry Gray scoring for Canada. Two days later Canada played Yugoslavia in Annapolis, Maryland and were beaten 1-0. Canada was now faced with the difficult task of beating Cameroon at Harvard Stadium to qualify for the quarter finals. Cameroon were perhaps the finest and most skilful African team of that era with some really outstanding players, but Canada, on two goals from Dale Mitchell and one from Igor Vrablic, recorded one of its finest victories to win 3-1 before 27,621 fans. Next came a move to the west coast to play in the quarter final.
The opposition was none other than Brazil. The game was played at Stanford University Stadium in Palo Alo, California, and much to everyone's surprise Canada scored first through Dale Mitchell. A second goal from Gerry Gray followed, and appeared to put Canada in the driver's seat, but was disallowed, apparently for offside, although the television commentators were puzzled. In the second half Brazil equalized and the game went into extra time and ended still tied at 1-1. The dreaded penalty shoot out followed, and Brazil ended up qualifying for the semifinal, eventually advancing to the final and losing to France. This team formed the nucleus of the team that qualified for the World Cup for the first time two years later.