Canada Soccer

Canada pulls together significant 0-0 draw against heavyweights Portugal

Posted on 28 May 2018 in ↳ Men's U-23 Team (Olympic)

Canada have quickly pulled together a significant result against one of the tournament favourites at the 2018 Festival International Espoirs Provence. After just a handful of days together, Canada have drawn 0-0 with Portugal at the Stade Jules Ladoumègue in Vitrolles. Canada and Portugal are tied in second place after group leaders Turkey won 2:1 over last-place Japan.

Canada will next face Turkey on Thursday 31 May at Stade d’Honneur in Vitrolles, with the 19.30 local kick off broadcast live on BeIn Sports Canada (13.30 ET / 10.30 PT). Throughout the competition, fans can follow the Canadian team across Canada Soccer’s digital channels including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

“We had some good moments in the first half and now the players need to come away from it, look at it, and go towards the areas in which we need to improve,” said John Herdman, Canada’s co-coach along with Mauro Biello for the Toulon tournament in France. “It’s a young team that has never played together and I think for the first match it was a good start. At the same time, the players will be a little disappointed to have not pushed a little harder for the win. That is the mindset we are trying to instill in them.”

Canada’s best chance in the Monday match came midway through the first half on a shot from Aidan Daniels, but the shot was stopped by Portugal goalkeeper Luis Maximiano. Canadian goalkeeper James Pantemis and his back line of Émile Legault, Derek Cornelius, Julian Dunn, and Daniel Kibumbe posted the clean sheet. Right back Legault, still only 18 years old, earned Canada’s nod as Player of the Match.

“They have only been together a few days, but they can now use that as a foundation moving forward,” said Herdman. “They can work towards improving those processes, building team spirit and tactical excellence. From there, the team chemistry will come.”

Canada have a promising group of young players who will benefit from the international experience at the tournament in France. It’s an important opportunity for these players as they continue their development towards contributing to a successful Men’s National Team Program.

Against Portugal, Canada featured a squad mixed in age from as young as 17 years old, only recently brought together earlier this week for the Toulon tournament. Most of Canada’s squad was 19 years or younger and thus eligible for next round of FIFA U-20 World Cup Qualifiers in Concacaf, along with four 20-21 year old players. Portugal, meanwhile, featured an all U-19 squad that has reached the final round of the UEFA Under-19 Championship Poland 2018 with a perfect record. Portugal are one of eight nations remaining fighting for five UEFA spots to the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019.

In the Monday draw, Canada featured 11 teenagers, nine of which are eligible for the next Concacaf Men's Under-20 Championship. Along with looking at the next Concacaf Men’s Under-20 Championship, Canada are also preparing for the upcoming Concacaf Nations League Qualifying that begins away in September against US Virgin Islands and then at home in October against Dominica.

"It's important to see these young players that are 18-21 years old because there are always going to be young players that can emerge in a qualifying cycle,” said Herdman. “It is critical to get our eyes on them early."

The 46th edition of the Toulon tournament runs 26 May to 9 June. While Canada, Portugal, Turkey, and Japan make up Group C, the tournament also features England, China PR, Mexico, and Qatar in Group A as well as France, Korea Republic, Scotland, and Togo in Group B. After Canada’s next group match on 31 May, they close out the group phase against Japan on 3 June.

 

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