Canada Soccer has brought together a promising group of 20 young players for the upcoming Festival International Espoirs Provence from 26 May to 9 June in France. The squad will face a series of tough opponents as the players continue their international development towards contributing to the future success of Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team.
Canada will face Portugal, Turkey and Japan in Group C of the 2018 tournament. The 46th edition of the tournament also features England, China PR, Mexico, and Qatar in Group A as well as France, Korea Republic, Scotland, and Togo in Group B. Canada’s three group matches are 28 June (Portugal), 31 May (Turkey), and 3 June (Japan).
“This is an important development opportunity for our young players as they continue along the pathway representing Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team in international soccer,” said John Herdman, Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team Head Coach and Men’s National EXCEL Director.
The Canada squad, which features U-21 players born from 1997 to 2000, includes several players that have already had their first call up to the Men’s National Team. Liam Millar and Kris Twardek have both made their international “A” debuts while Derek Cornelius and James Pantemis have had their first call ups in the past year.
More than half the squad are born 1999 or later, which means they will be eligible for the next Concacaf Men’s Under-20 Championship, which serves as qualifiers for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019. All 20 players are also eligible for the next Olympic Qualifiers ahead of Tokyo 2020.
As part of an aligned Men’s National Team Program, the international matches in France will provide Canada’s young players with the opportunity to gain valuable international experience ahead of 2018-19 Concacaf Nations League and, for those younger players, the Concacaf Men’s Under-20 Championship.
“This is a prestigious youth tournament in France that will provide our tracking Men’s EXCEL players with an opportunity to be fully tested against tier-one opponents,” said John Herdman, Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team Head Coach and Men’s National EXCEL Director. “We will use these matches to assess the current EXCEL group as we prepare for upcoming CONCACAF youth competitions. The matches will also help identify a group of young players to be targeted for closer monitoring and tracking as we look to the future of our Men’s National Team program.”
Collectively, the group will have accumulated more than 1,000 player days in the Men’s EXCEL Program by the time the first match kicks off against Portugal on 28 June. Alessandro Busti is the one debutant, a 17-year old goalkeeper in the Juventus youth program.
Busti is one of eight players attached to professional clubs in six different European countries. While Busti is in Italy, Millar, Twardek and Matthew Roberts are in England, Jonathan David is in Belgium, Kosovar Sadiki is in Croatia, Émile Legault is in France, and Cornelius is in Serbia.
Twelve players are attached to three professional clubs in Canada, with Noah Verhoeven away on loan to Fresno FC. Theo Bair, David Norman, Jr., and Jake Ruby are in Vancouver, Aidan Daniels, Julian Dunn, and Noble Okello are in Toronto, and Pantemis, Clément Bayiha, Mathieu Choinière, Daniel Kinumbe and Shamit Shome are in Montréal.
1- GK- James Pantemis | CAN / Impact de Montréal
2- FB- Jake Ruby | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency
3- FB- Daniel Kinumbe | CAN / Académie Impact Montréal
4- CB- Kosovar Sadiki | CRO / NK Lokomotiva Zagreb
5- CB- Derek Cornelius | SRB / FK Javor Ivanjica
6- M- Matthew Roberts | ENG / Swansea U-18
7- W- Kris Twardek | ENG / Millwall FC
8- M- Mathieu Choinière | CAN / Académie Impact Montréal
9- F- Jonathan David | BEL / KAA Gent II
10- M- Aidan Daniels | CAN / Toronto FC II
11- F- Liam Millar | ENG / Liverpool FC U-23
12- CB- Julian Dunn | CAN / Toronto FC II
13- FB- Clément Bayiha | CAN / Académie Impact Montréal
14- CM- David Norman | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
15- M- Noah Verhoeven | USA / Fresno FC
16- M- Noble Okello | CAN / Toronto FC II
17- F- Theo Bair | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency
18- GK- Alessandro Busti | ITA / Juventus Primavera
19- FB- Émile Legault | FRA / AJ Auxerre
20- CM- Shamit Shome | CAN / Impact de Montréal
Bair, Theo | 1999 | Ottawa, ON, CAN | Ottawa Royals
Bayiha, Clément | 1999 | Ste-Thérèse, QC, CAN | Bain de Bretagne
Busti, Alessandro | 2000 | Toronto, ON, CAN |
Choinière, Mathieu | 1999 | St-Alexandre, QC, CAN | AS Haut-Richelieu
Cornelius, Derek | 1997 | Ajax, ON, CAN | Ajax House League
Daniels, Aidan | 1998 | Ajax, ON, CAN | Ajax Azzurri SC
David, Jonathan | 2000 | Ottawa, ON, CAN | Gloucester Dragons
Dunn, Julian | 2000 | Richmond Hill, ON, CAN | Vaughan SC
Kinumbe, Daniel | 1999 | Sherbrooke, QC, CAN | CS Sherbrooke
Legault, Émile | 2000 | Saint-Lambert, QC, CAN | CS Saint-Lambert
Millar, Liam | 1999 | Brampton, ON, CAN | Brampton YSC
Norman, David | 1998 | Coquitlam, BC, CAN | Coquitlam Metro Ford SC
Okello, Noble | 2000 | Toronto, ON, CAN | North York Hearts Azzurri
Pantemis, James | 1997 | Montréal, QC, CAN | Pierrefonds
Roberts, Matthew | 2000 | Milton, ON, CAN | Milton SA
Ruby, Jake | 2000 | North Vancouver, BC, CAN | Lynn Valley SA
Sadiki, Kosovar | 1998 | Kitchener, ON, CAN | Kitchener SC
Shome, Shamit | 1997 | Edmonton, AB, CAN | Southwest United SC
Twardek, Kris | 1997 | Ottawa, ON, CAN | West Carleton SC
Verhoeven, Noah | 1999 | Surrey, BC, CAN |