Canada starts strong at Concacaf U-20 Championship with 4:0 victory over Dominica
Posted on 2 November 2018 in ↳ Men's EXCEL U-14 to U-23
Two first-half goals from Noble Okello and late goals from José Hernández and Theo Bair sent Canada into a tie for first place in Group D at the Concacacf Men's Under-20 Championship in Bradenton, FL, USA. After a rain delay, the young Canadians dominated possession against Dominica moving the ball confidently and creating numerous scoring opportunities.
“Anytime you start a tournament and get three points, scores some goals and get a clean sheet, it’s a good start,” said Andrew Olivieri, Canada Soccer’s Men's EXCEL U-20 Program Director. “We’re pleased with the outcome of the game and really happy with the performances.”
Canada opened the scoring in the 24’ after creating two early scoring chances including a Theo Bair shot off the cross bar. Off a blocked cross, Theo Bair headed a free ball down to Adonijah Reid at the top of the 18, Reid knocked it back to Noble Okello, who buried it into the right side of goal.
Bair had two more opportunities within the opening half hour with the Dominica keeper Tafari Elie making two big saves to prevent the lead from opening. In the 31’, on a quick switch of play Noah Verhoeven played a long ball through to Daniel Kinumbe who found himself with lots of space down the left side. Kinumbe played a ball through the box to Okello, who knocked in his second.
In the second half, Adojinah Reid’s abilities on the ball and Daniel Kinumbe’s advanced position on the left side gave Dominica trouble. In the 81’, Baldissimo’s ball wide to Kinumbe created space for Reid who received a pass and drew three defenders, Hernández was able to tap in the loose ball. Baldissimo’s long passes were key again as he played out of the back to Choinière who’s deft flick put Bair in alone, for Canada’s fourth.
“We started well, had a good match, and we can now look forward to our next match,” said Canada’s player of the match Okello. “It was a good all-around performance and we are just happy that we got the win. It is important to start off well.”
In other Group D action, Canada’s matchday 2 and 3 opponents Guadeloupe and Panama played to a 4:0 Panama victory. Canada will play Guadeloupe 4 November and Panama 6 November before wrapping up their group stage against St. Kitts and Nevis and Martinique who played to a matchday one 1:0 Martinique victory.
“Guadeloupe gave Panama, who are the top seed in the group, a real tough match,” said Olivieri of Canada’s next opponent. “Our next two matches are against the best opponents in the group, we believe.”
LINEUP & NOTES
Canada’s starting XI featured Thomas Hasal in goal, Émile Legault at right back, Julian Dunn and Yohan Le Bourhis at centre back, Daniel Kinumbe at left back, and Michael Baldisimo, Noble Okello, Noah Verhoeven, Clément Bayiha, Adonijah Reid, and Theo Bair from the midfield up through to the attack. In the second half, coach Andrew Olivieri replaced Bayiha with José Hernández (53'), Verhoeven with Mathieu Choinière (64'), and Legault with Dante Campbell (80’).
The Canada-Dominica match was one of eight matches at the IMG Center in Bradenton on Friday 2 November as part of the 87-match 2018 Concacaf Men’s Under-20 Championship.
TOUGH ROAD TO POLAND 2019
The road to the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 through Concacaf competition is a challenging task, with Canada's last qualification at a FIFA men's youth tournament in 2013 and last participation at a FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2007. With the revamped format of 34 nations and now five group opponents in the initial phase, Canada will face strong opposition across a tough schedule with five matches in nine days.
"It’s going to be tough qualifying as it always is, but we are at the start of a new journey with our program laying the foundations of culture and tactical identity," said John Herdman, Canada Soccer's Men's National Team Head Coach and Men's EXCEL Program Director. "We have a new Men's EXCEL Program that will begin to expose our players more consistently to those foundations, yet we know that our players are highly motivated and will be giving their best to qualify."
MEN'S EXCEL PROGRAM
Canada Soccer’s Men’s EXCEL Program channels our nation’s exceptional players into the best soccer environments. The Canada Soccer Pathway works in collaboration with our provincial and territory partners as well as the professional clubs and academies. For Canada’s elite players, the program emphasizes player development on the pathway to representing Canada’s Men’s National Team.
FIFA TOURNAMENTS & CONCACAF CHAMPIONSHIPS
Canada Soccer's Men's National Youth Teams have won two Concacaf titles: both the 1986 and 1996 Concacaf Men's Youth Championships. Canada have qualified for eight editions of the FIFA U-20 World Cup and six editions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.