Canada Soccer

The road to the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017

Posted on 11 February 2017 in ↳ Men's EXCEL U-18 to U-20

Four CONCACAF nations will qualify for the biennial FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017, with Canada among the 12 competing nations at the CONCACAF Men's Under-20 Championship in Costa Rica. The FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017 will welcome countries from around the world, with the match schedule for the 24 finalists to be confirmed on 15 March just days after the last nation qualifies.

The 2017 CONCACAF Men's Under-20 Championship runs from 17 February to 5 March, with the new competition format divided into two stages. From the first stage, 12 nations are divided into three round-robin groups, with two nations from each group to advance to the Classification Phase.

Group A - Mexico, Antigua & Barbuda, Honduras, Canada
Group B - USA, Panama, St. Kitts & Nevis, Haiti
Group C - Costa Rica, El Salvador, Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago

Following the opening round (17-25 February), the six nations will be divided into two groups, as determined by the draw and the corresponding placements in the opening round. From these final groups, the top two nations in each group will qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017. The two group winners will also play in the Championship match on Sunday 5 March at Estadio Nacional.

Group D - Group B 2nd Place; Group A 1st Place; Group C 1st Place
Group E - Group B 1st Place; Group A 2nd Place; Group C 2nd Place 

Canada will play three or more matches at the CONCACAF Men's Under-20 Championship. Their first opponent is Honduras on 17 February, with the two sides most recently even 0:0 in a 14 November international friendly in Tegucigalpa. Two nights earlier, Canada were 2:1 winners, with Kris Twardek scoring the winner in the final minutes.

While both Canada and Mexico earned automatic berths into the CONCACAF Men's Under-20 Championship, Honduras qualified as best in Central America while Antigua & Barbuda qualified as Caribbean Group A winners. All U-20 teams feature players born 1997 or later.

17 February 2017 - Honduras v Canada at 17.30; Mexico v Antigua & Barbuda at 20.00
20 February 2017 - Antigua & Barbuda v Honduras at 17.00; Mexico v Canada at 19.30
23 February 2017 - Antigua & Barbuda v Canada at 17.00; Mexico v Honduras at 19.30

27 February 2017 - Group B 2nd Place v Group A 1st Place at 16.00; Group B 1st Place v Group A 2nd Place at 18.30
1 March 2017 - Group A 1st Place v Group C 1st Place at 16.30; Group A 2nd Place v Group C 2nd Place at 19.00
3 March 2017 - Group B 2nd Place v Group C 1st Place at 17.30; Group B 1st Place v Group C 2nd Place at 20.00

Canada has a final squad of 20 players, all of whom have international experience playing away in Central America. The U-20 program featured 40 players over the last six months of preparation, while Men's EXCEL Program has evaluated more than 250 players born 1997-1999 starting with U-15 identification camps in 2012.

"For the CONCACAF tournament, we will take the players who are in the best moment at the time of selections," said Rob Gale, Canada Soccer's Men's National U-20 Team Coach. "While some players may not be quite ready at this stage in February, it is vital that we continue to prepare them for future selection on our Men's National Team and the demands of international football."

Alongside their time with clubs, all 20 players have experience in Canada Soccer's Men's EXCEL Program. By the time Canada faces Honduras on the opening day, this group will have accumulated more than 1,400 days in national youth camps. Aymar Sigue and Emmanuel Zambazis were just 14 years old when they debuted in the program in 2011; Diego Gutiérrez was 19 when he joined the program in January 2017.

Canada's final 20-man squad features players currently attached to clubs in nine different countries, including Canadian clubs Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Toronto FC, and Impact Montréal FC. Players from those three Canadian clubs are: Vancouver's Kadin Chung and Thomas Hasal; Toronto's Dante Campbell, Aidan Daniels, Liam Fraser, Shaan Hundal, and Luca Uccello; and Montréal's Thomas Meilleur-Giguère.

Also included in the squad are: Gutiérrez (CD Palestino) in Chile; Zambazis (Iraklis 1908) in Greece; Liam Millar (Liverpool), Kosovar Sadiki (Stoke City), and Kris Twardek (Millwall) in England; Zachary Brault-Guillard (Olympique Lyonnais) in France; Gabriel Boakye (Energie Cottbus) in Germany; Tristan Borges (sc Heerenveen) in Netherlands; Dario Zanatta (Heart of Midlothian) in Scotland; and Sigue (Penn State), Kamal Miller (Syracuse), and Dayne St. Clair (Maryland) at universities in USA.

"At this level, you know that every group will be competitive and decided by key moments and goals," said Rob Gale, Canada Soccer's Men's National U-20 Team Coach. "It will be vital that we get our moments right and that we get the best performances on the day."

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 in international soccer.

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