Canada earns gritty 1:0 win over Uzbekistan in U-23 series

Octavio Zambrano has a "W" from his first match in charge of Canada Soccer's Men's National Team Program

Octavio Zambrano has a “W” from his first match in charge of Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team Program. Zambrano and team led Canada to a 1:0 victory over Uzbekistan in the first of two matches at a U-23 series in Qatar.

Caniggia Elva was the goalscorer just before the hour mark. Captain and goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau posted the clean sheet while Jordan Schweitzer earned man of the match honours.

“We came out with the idea to beat them and we did,” said Octavio Zambrano, Head Coach of Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team Program. “We need to keep our feet on the ground and we need to play just as hard, if not harder, against the hosts Qatar.”

Canada’s next match is Tuesday 28 March against the hosts Qatar (19.00 local / 12.00 ET / 09.00 PT).

Uzbekistan won their first match 3:1 over Qatar before falling in their second match to Canada.

“Our boys had the grit in the key moments to keep the victory which is encouraging and rewarding,” said Zambrano. “You can see with these young players that if they get the proper training and the right environment, they can excel and come into our Men’s National Team.”

The U-23 series provides Canada Soccer with an opportunity to develop and transition younger players on their path to the Men’s National Team. The tournament also provides coach Zambrano with his first matches in charge of the Canadian Men’s National Team Program. Coach Zambrano oversees an integrated program from the Men’s National Team through to all men’s national youth teams from the U-14 age level and up.

“There’s a very good mood in camp,” said Caniggia Elva, who was making his international debut for Canada. “We all have the quality to play and understand each other. We defended well together and we managed to gel.”

Zambrano’s first match in charge of the Men’s National Team will be 13 June in Montréal when Canada faces Curaçao as part of both nations’ preparations for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.