Canada are one win away from a spot at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Papua New Guinea 2016. With the region’s field reduced to four nations, Canada will have a first shot at qualification at the CONCACAF semi-finals this Friday night.
Canada, Mexico, Honduras and USA are the four nations vying for three qualification spots through the 2015 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship. Confirmed times for the CONCACAF semis are Canada v Mexico at 17.00 local (18.00 ET / 15.00 PT) and USA v host Honduras at 20.00 local (21.00 ET / 18.00 PT).
The two Friday winners – along with the Sunday winner of the Match for 3rd Place – will qualify for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Papua New Guinea 2016.
“These are the matches for which you train to play,” said Daniel Worthington, Canada’s national EXCEL U-23 Director and U-20 Coach. “The process is the same, but there will be more pressure, so we will need to keep it simple.”
The final four matches on 11 and 13 December will all be played at the recuperated Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula, with the Estadio Francisco Morazan now unavailable after a local event. Canada already played their first match of the competition in that venue before inclement weather moved the second and third group matches to the Escuela Internacional Sampedrana.
Canada finished first in Group A with perfect nine points, with 11 goals scored by seven different players. All 20 Canadians have seen action in the tournament, with the team collectively posting three consecutive clean sheets against Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and Honduras.
Canada have an exciting group of youth players at the tournament, ranging from 15 to 19 years of age. Eleven of the 20 players have made their competitive debut here in Honduras. For next year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Papua New Guinea 2016, all players must be born 1996 or later.
Equally exciting, Canada’s national youth program also extends to players called up to the Women’s National Team currently in Brazil. On Wednesday in the opening match of the Torneio Internacional de Natal, three teenagers made their international A debut in a 3:0 win over Mexico.
“We have youth players in Brazil with our full national team and we have our group here in Honduras, so our program is aligned and connected,” said Worthington. “We are moving forward and we are moving in the right direction.”
Canada are four-time CONCACAF women’s youth champions, twice at the U-20 level and once each at the U-17 and U-15 levels. Canada have participated in six of seven FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups since the biennial tournament was initiated in 2002, including a silver medal at the inaugural edition on home.
Between 2014 and 2015, Canada were the only nation in the world to finish top-8 in three FIFA women’s competitions: sixth place at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015, sixth place at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014, and eighth place at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica 2014.