Canada Soccer’s Women’s U-17 team will now play for third place at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018 after falling 0:1 to Mexico in the Semi-final at Estadio Charrúa in Montevideo. Canada will face New Zealand in the Match for Third Place on Saturday 1 December at (11:00 PT) LIVE on TSN1 and RDS2 in Canada.
“I’m very proud of this team. I think they’re wonderful young women. Today wasn’t their day. Mexico deserved the win. I think we lost and they’ll learn from it and I think many of them will play for Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team one day,” said Head Coach Rhian Wilkinson. “I’ve said the whole way that we’re 21 strong, I believe in this team.
“We’re here for a podium finish now. It’s about getting over this. There were moments where we saw who they really are and moments where I don’t think they played to the best of their ability. However, they rose to the challenge and pushed to the end.”
In the opening 20 minutes, Canada and Mexico exchanged bouts of possession with Mexico going over the bar at 11’ and Canada repeating the feat in the 20’ minute through a Teni Akindoju shot.
In the 24’ Mexico’s pressure forced Maya Antoine to work to recover the ball from behind in the 18-yard box. Her challenge brought down the Mexican player in the box leading to a yellow card and a penalty kick which Nicole Perez converted to give Mexico a 1:0 lead in the 25’.
Canada immediately responded and applied pressure with Andersen Williams nearly getting a shot off before being tackled in the 18-yard box, and a Caitlin Shaw corner that was cleared by Mexico. A pair of Lara Kazandjian corner kicks provided Canada with another opportunity in the 34’ but Léonie Portelance drove the deflected second corner over the bar.
Huitema came close to scoring the equalizer in the 39’, however, the assistant referee called a foul on Teni Akindoju who collided with the last defender back to spring Huitema. In the 42’, Jayde Riviere stepped forward and found the space to put a cross into the Mexican 18, but the ball bounced and went wide of the Mexican goal.
Riviere and Huitema combined on the right wing just before half to force a desperate clearance from Mexico out of touch for a throw, but the referee blew the halftime whistle as the ball was thrown into play and the teams went to the dressing room with Canada down a goal.
Mexico had the first chance of the second half. A 25-yard shot went off the outside of Karpenko’s goal and away from danger in the 50’. For much of the second half, though, Mexico were happy to stay compact while Canada worked to play more direct than in the first half and playing with the lead, Mexico were able to keep Canada from registering a shot on target. Jordyn Huitema took a Wayny Balata pass and tried a long rage effort in the 83’, but it was over the bar.
Karpenko made a last-minute save and Balata followed up with a block as Mexico found space when Canada pressed hard in the last 10 minutes and five minutes of added time. Canada, however, were unable to equalize and will face New Zealand in the Match for Third Place.
Both Canada and New Zealand are fighting for their first-ever podium finish at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. Since 2008, Canada have two wins, one draw, and one loss in all competitions at the women’s youth level against New Zealand, including a 1:0 victory in the inaugural FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup New Zealand 2008. The two sides most recently faced each other in a 7 November 2018 friendly in Los Cespedes, with New Zealand winning 2:1 in a pre-tournament exhibition.
“New Zealand have a ton of heart,” Wilkinson said. “They are a great team and we better be ready, we’ve got to turn this around quickly.”
Despite the Semi-final loss, Canada will finish with its best showing in the competition. In FIFA youth competitions, Canada previously won silver at the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship Canada 2002.
Canada has placed in the top ten participating nations in each edition of the tournament. Canada had previously reached a highest position of seventh in New Zealand 2008 and Azerbaijan 2012. Canada placed tenth at Trinidad and Tobago 2010, eighth at Costa Rica 2014, and ninth in Jordan 2016.
Canada’s starting line-up against Mexico featured Anna Karpenko in goal, Jayde Riviere at right back, Maya Antoine and Ariel Young at centre back, and Léonie Portelance at left back, Caitlin Shaw, Lara Kazandjian, and Sonia Walk at midfield, and Jordyn Huitema, Teni Akindoju, and Andersen Williams up front. In the second half, coach Rhian Wilkinson replaced Akindoju with Kaila Novak (46’), Walk with Wayny Balata (46’), and Williams with Jessica De Filippo (75’).
Canada marks the 10-year anniversary of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup as one of only six nations to have qualified for every edition since it was launched in 2008, alongside Germany, Ghana, Japan, New Zealand and Korea DPR.