Canada aiming for a podium finish at Uruguay 2018

MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY - NOVEMBER 17: Kaila Novak of Canada runs with the ball during the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Uruguay 2018 group D match between Korea Republic and Canada at Estadio Charrua on November 17, 2018 in Montevideo, Uruguay. (Photo by Maddie Meyer - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Canada Soccer’s Women’s U-17 team is aiming for a podium finish at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018 as it gears up for the Match for Third Place against New Zealand.

“This team had never played together before we began this camp in Uruguay at the start of November, so it’s incredible to see how far they’ve come, and the connections they have built, in such a short period,” said Head Coach Rhian Wilkinson.  “It’s a testament to the development system we have in place in Canada, where regional centres across the nation teach the same curriculum and cultural lessons so that these players can come together with the same foundation despite some of them never having played together.”

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 has 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, Uruguay, with New Zealand winning 2:1 in a pre-tournament exhibition.

Canada’s match against New Zealand in Uruguay before the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup was Wilkinson’s first match at the helm as a Head Coach.

Despite the recent match, Wilkinson expects there will be surprises from both sides when the teams meet in the Match for Third Place on Saturday.

“We rotated the entire squad except for one ‘keeper in our friendly against New Zealand as we were trying our different things in preparation for the World Cup,  so It’s going to be a very different match,” said Wilkinson.  “But we’ve been watching them all tournament, and we know they are a very energetic team that likes to press, so we’ll be ready.”

Regardless of Saturday’s result, Canada will finish with its best showing ever in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.  In FIFA youth competitions, Canada previously won silver at the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship Canada 2002.  At the senior level, Canada placed fourth at the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003.

“I’m a two-time bronze medallist at the Olympics, so I know the disappointment of a Semi-final loss, but I also know that the pure joy of a bronze medal and a podium finish is what we are now aiming for,” said Head Coach Rhian Wilkinson.  “Going out there and putting on a performance that we are proud of is our main goal, and usually a great performance creates a positive result.”

Canada has placed in the top ten participating nations in each edition of the tournament. Canada had previously reached the 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 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.