Canada’s Men’s U-17 Team gets what comes very rarely in life: a second chance.
With an opportunity to clinch Group B on Thursday at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship after eventual group winners Mexico dropped points against Costa Rica, Canada lost 1:0 to Panama and had to settle for runner-up in the group.
Canada needed a win to clinch the group but it wasn’t to be this day. But it’s not all for naught as Canada has a second chance to qualify in a playoff against Costa Rica on Sunday. Canada beat Costa Rica 3:2 earlier in this competition.
“We showed, maybe, a little bit of the pressure that was on. Of course we saw the Mexico-Costa Rica result and we knew that if we win we could be in first place and in the final and in the World Cup,” said Head Coach Sean Fleming. “Our players need to get used to that so I think that’s something that we don’t have in normal environments. So it was good for us to have the experience tonight. Even though we went down again, I think our response was good.”
Word filtered out when the team was having their pre-game meal that Costa Rica had tied Mexico meaning Canada could have advanced directly with a win over Panama on Thursday.
Canada had two quality chances early but couldn’t put them away and they looked like they had an equalizing goal that was called back for an apparent handball so luck was not on Canada’s side on this night.
“We’re at the part of the tournament where we have some tired legs and some tired minds,” said Fleming, whose team wrapped up their fifth game in just under two weeks.
“We’re going to have to dig really deep down for Sunday to make sure that we are at our best as we can both mentally and physically.”
Canada faces Costa Rica by virtue of the fact that all four runners-up and third-placed finishers have 10 points. With the United States and Jamaica in the other group also on 10 points, the next determining factor is goal difference. The USA is +9, Costa Rica +8, and Canada and Jamaica both have +4 but Canada has the edge with more goals scored.
The final day of games was originally scheduled for the Estadio Olimpico but organizers have changed that so on Sunday 15 March, Canada will play Costa Rica at 16.00 ET / 13.00 PT at the Estadio Francisco Morazan.