VANCOUVER – First-year UBC Thunderbirds defender Chris Serban has been named to the roster of the Canadian men’s Under-20 national team that will compete CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in Jamaica.
“Feeling excited doesn’t even come close to describing how I feel,” said Serban, who is a student in the Sauder School of Business. “I worked very hard, but so did everyone else that was considered for the Canadian national team. I feel honoured, lucky and extremely blessed right now.”
Canada has selected 20 players for the tournament, which will serve as the qualifier for the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015, will run January 9-24. Serban is the only CIS player on the squad and just one of three currently playing at the university level.
“We are thrilled for Chris to be selected to the final squad and have the opportunity to represent Canada and try to qualify for a youth World Cup,” said UBC head coach Mike Mosher.
“This is a great accomplishment for Chris and not an easy one for a university player given the number of players selected from professional environments. I do think our flexible training environment in CIS does help here as we can train and play competitive games with our players almost year round. We were able to run sessions with Chris after our season as he prepared for the final stages of selections to try and assist him to be sharp and fit.”
Serban, who is from Calgary, had an impressive first season with UBC, winning both Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) and Canada West Rookie of the Year honours.
He was selected to play for Canada’s U-20 team on its recent three-game tour of Europe, starting for the red and white in its wins over Russia and the United States. Serban then participated in the final selection camp in Florida in mid-December.
“I think the greatest credit goes to Chris,” said Mosher. “This is a player who a year ago was without a club. In the span of less than a year, he has played for the Whitecaps FC Residency and PDL teams, played at UBC and earned CIS Rookie of the Year honours, played in U-20 internationals and now he has made a Canadian U-20 side that will attempt to qualify for a World Cup. It is great to see that good things happen to a top-quality guy with a great attitude and who is prepared to really work hard.”
Canada will play out of Group B at the CONCACAF tournament and will be rolling into Montego Bay with no shortage of confidence having picked up some encouraging results and performances in the run-up to the competition.
“I am excited to get this squad together and we are all looking forward to the learning experience of a World Cup qualifying campaign. This is an opportunity to continue the players development and expose them to demands of an international football tournament,” said Canada U-20 head coach Rob Gale. “I hope and expect the players will seize this opportunity to test and showcase themselves and we are confident in showing everyone what a good football team we are becoming and helping these players move on in their international careers.”
Canada’s first game will be January 10 in Montego Bay against Haiti.
– with files from Canada Soccer