Canada Soccer

Undefeated Canada takes command of first place with spirited 1:0 victory

Posted on 31 May 2018 in ↳ Men's U-23 Team (Olympic)

Noah Verhoeven came through with the winner inside the last 10 minutes as Canada came away with a 1:0 victory over group opponents Turkey in France. On the heels of another spirited effort by the young Canadians, Canada are undefeated in first place with a draw and a victory at the Festival International Espoirs Provence.

"We have to believe in our qualities and believe in our work," said Mauro Biello, Canada’s co-coach along with John Herdman for the Toulon tournament in France. "If you believe in that, you can make the unexpected happen. Right now, we have two results, but we are not finished yet. We need to complete the group stage with a match against Japan."

Canada next face Japan with a chance to win the group and book a spot in the semi-finals at this historic tournament. The Canada-Japan match is this Sunday 3 June at Stade Parsemain in Fos-sur-mer, with the 15.00 local kick off broadcast live on BeIn Sports Canada (09.00 ET / 06.00 PT). Throughout the competition, fans can follow the Canadian team across Canada Soccer’s digital channels including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

It's another big result for a team that is quickly becoming the story of the tournament. Canada opened the group phase with a 0:0 draw against group favourites Portugal on Monday and continued with the 1:0 win over Turkey on Thursday. The two results from the tournament's first-time participants have quickly turned heads on the international football stage.

"We wanted to come here and get some results, but we wanted to also gain experience for the players," said Biello. "This is the first time the players are together, so we wanted to establish a culture and an identity with them. Credit to the players, they are reacting to that and they are fighting out there for the results. This is very important for us."

After starting seven teenagers on Monday, including youth international debutant Daniel Kinumbe, Canada started eight teenagers on Thursday including 17-year old debutant goalkeeper Alessandro Busti. Once again, the young players showed plenty of promise as Canada posted back-to-back clean sheets against European opponents in the same tournament for the first time in Canadian soccer history.

It was Busti alongside the backline of Émile Legault, Derek Cornelius, Kosovar Sadiki, and Kinumbe who led the way in Canada's clean sheet efforts. Centre back Cornelius was Canada's player of the match, notably once clearing a Turkey scoring chance from the line.

There was plenty of Canada attack in the match, too, especially as the match wore on in the second half and the Canadians managed more and more possession. Moments before the Verhoeven goal, Liam Millar fired a low shot that struck the outside post. It wasn't Miller's first chance, either, as he was previously stopped just inside the hour mark on a quick shot from inside the box. Aidan Daniels, meanwhile, was close with a dangerous free kick that was just tipped over the bar in the first half while Mathieu Choinière's kick was just wide of the target in the second half.

Verhoeven finally scored the winner in the 75th minute as his left-footed shot from just outside the box hit the back of the net. He danced away from left back Tuncer Duhan Aksu and fired a low shot that evaded centre back Merih Demiral and goalkeeper Muhammed Sengezer as well as a pair of Canadian attackers lurking dangerously inside the box.

The win now sets up a showdown for first place in the group with Asian opponents Japan.

"We need to have the same mentality that we have been showing," said Biello looking ahead to the Japan match. "When we don't have the ball, we are difficult to break; when we do have the ball, we need to be very adaptable and be able to unbalance the opposition with our movement and with our passing. If we can do that, then we can be dangerous."

In the other group match, Japan came from behind to win 3-2 over Portugal on a late penalty. Portugal had gone ahead on a Felipe goal in the 72nd minute, but then Ayase Ueda scored twice including the winner on a penalty in added time. Through two matches, Japan are on three points through a loss and win while Portugal are on one point with a draw and a loss.

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. Beyond the group phase, all 12 nations advance to either a classification match (fifth to 12th place) or the semi-finals en route to the championship match on 9 June.

 

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