Despite winning its group with nine points and tying Mexico in regulation play of the Semi-Final, Canada’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup aspirations came to an end against Haiti as the Caribbean nation topped Canada 1:0 in the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship to claim the final FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup spot.
“We’re obviously really disappointed not to qualify for France, especially in that there is an expectation for Canada to qualify in CONCACAF tournaments,” said Bev Priestman, Canada Soccer Women’s U-20 Head Coach and Women’s National EXCEL Director U-15-U-23 after the match. “These players will learn from this. It’s a very young group, and many of them will go on to the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s U-17 Championship in April, so this tournament will bring massive experience for them that can only help propel them through the U-17 qualification process and later in their careers.”
Canada had a strong start to the tournament with wins over Costa Rica (3:1), Trinidad and Tobago (4:1), and Haiti (4:0) in the Group Stage. In the Semi-Final, Canada drew Mexico 1:1 in regulation time to force a penalty shootout, which went 4:3 in Mexico’s favour.
“We faced a really competitive Haiti team who played very direct football, and under the conditions we struggled with that,” said Priestman. “We came into this tournament knowing that Haiti would be a threat, and I think that speaks to the development of the game across CONCACAF, but also around the world. If you look at confederations like Europe, it’s not a guarantee for any team to qualify, and that helps the standard of the game, so I think it’s a good thing for women’s football but from our perspective we now need to go home and review the tournament, learn from it and work hard to ensure our place at future tournaments.”
Even with the disappointment of missing the podium at the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship, Canada’s Head Coach had some strong praise for the resilient Canadian team.
“I think we brought some great football,” she said. “The last two games were difficult, losing on penalties and then today getting quality chances without the ball crossing the line, so the big picture is that there were some real positives from this tournament, some players really stepped up and for the system that is really important as we progress our youth players to the Women’s National Team.”
Canada will next see women’s youth action at the 2018 CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship running 19–29 April 2018 in Nicaragua.