Canada’s Men’s U-17 Team has been handed a very challenging group as they look to qualify for their third-straight FIFA U-17 World Cup.
In order to achieve that feat, Canada will have to navigate a group at the 2015 CONCACAF Under-17 Championships containing Panama, Mexico, Costa Rica, Haiti, and St. Lucia. It’s a new format of six-team groups where the group winner goes to the tournament final and the second and third placed teams crossover with the other group to playoff for the final FIFA U-17 World Cup berths.
“It’s a difficult group. You have the two top Central American countries that qualified and, of course Mexico, as well,” said Head Coach Sean Fleming. “Haiti has come into these tournaments in the past and has done very well. Our first game is against Haiti and it’s very important in this tournament that you get off to a good start so we’ve got to hope that we can do that.”
The four teams that will represent CONCACAF at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015 will certainly have earned those spots as the teams who qualify will play six games total, all in the span of just over two weeks.
The new format is grueling but will reward the best teams who have the most depth, as managing players’ fatigue will be paramount.
“I can see why they’ve done it. It’s five games in a very pressure-packed environment and you have to get the results so it’s great. The other side of it is you’re going to be playing five games in approximately 10 to 11 days,” said Fleming. “The conditions will be challenging but these are all things all teams will have to deal with and we’ll have to be sure we have our depth on our team now.”
Canada opens play on 28 February against Haiti. Three days later they’re back at it against Costa Rica. They then wrap up group play with games against Mexico, St. Lucia, and Panama.
Group A is set to feature host Honduras, along with Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, USA, Cuba, in addition to a third qualifying nation from Central America, to be determined in a January playoff between El Salvador and Guatemala.
All games will be played at the Estadio Francisco Morazan in San Pedro Sula, HON.
Canada will be looking for their third straight berth at a FIFA U-17 World Cup.