When it comes to youth international football, few programs match the pedigree of Mexico. With two FIFA U-17 World Cups to their name and a runner-up performance two years ago, Mexico churns out talent year after year.
But on Friday night in Honduras, Canada was at least the equal of this edition of the Mexican U-17 team and certainly had a chance at bettering them as the two teams settled on a 1:1 draw.
Canada went down a goal as Ulises Torres scored right before the 20-minute mark but again Canada showed a fighting spirit to come back and get things level.
“I don’t think this team will get their heads down but I don’t like the situation we’re always putting ourselves in, having to come back from behind,” said Head Coach Sean Fleming. “But we’ve told our kids over and over, things aren’t always going to go the way we want them to go and we have to be able to react.”
Canada is a win away from the playoff round that will ultimately determine whether or not they go to the FIFA U-17 World Cup later this year in Chile but there still is a chance at top spot in Group B, which means automatic qualification as well as a chance to play for the CONCACAF U-17 Championship.
For that to happen, Canada has to win out and hope that Mexico can drop points in either of their last two games or score plenty of goals as Mexico currently holds the tiebreaker with better goal difference should the teams remain level on points at the end.
But Canada knows that in order to just make it to the playoff round, they’ll need the same kind of fight they’ve shown every game thus far and was shown on Friday night when Tristan Borges tied the game with a sensational finish late in the first half.
“We know as this long journey goes on, that you have to get better in each game,” said Fleming. “That’s going to be our focus now as we go onto our next opponent.”
Canada takes on St. Lucia on Monday before wrapping up Group B play on Thursday against Panama.