Canada were eliminated from the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019 after a tough 1:0 loss to New Zealand in the group finale. Canada dominated with 61% possession, 21 shots and a barrage of chances, but couldn’t beat the goalkeeper save for one chance that was called back by the Video Assistant Referee.
Jayden Nelson was Canada’s player of the match and scored what should have been the 1:1 equaliser if not for an offside call before he played the give-and-go magic with teammate Kamron Habibullah. New Zealand’s lone goal from the 27’ by Matthew Garbett stood as the 1:0 winner.
As part of an aligned Men’s National Team program, Canada’s attacking style was evident throughout the competition. Jacen Russell-Rowe was the Canadian goalscorer in both matches, becoming just the third Canadian to score in back-to-back FIFA men’s youth matches (after Iain Hume in 2003 and Jordan Hamilton in 2013).
“We were really good tonight but the next step for our program is to learn how to win big games like this,” said Andrew Olivieri.“We’re looking for the next players that can develop and excel into the Men’s National Team in time and continue to make our program better. Some of these boys are on the path to doing that and I hope they’ve learned something here that’s going to help them along the way.”
Before the group finale, Canada lost their opener 4:1 to Group A winner Brazil and then lost a heartbreaker 2:1 to Angola, conceding the winner in the 94’.
Canada created several chances on either side of the opening goal, but they couldn’t beat New Zealand’s goalkeeper Alex Paulsen. Ultimately, it was New Zealand that made it 1:0 in the 27’ after a free kick was awarded by the referee. Oskar Van Hattum rolled it short for Garbett who strode right and then fired his low shot past Canada’s diving goalkeeper Eleias Himaras.
The chances got even better in the second half before Nelson thought he equalised in the 57’. In the 49’, Jacen Russell-Rowe was stopped point blank by Paulsen after a wonderful pass from Nelson. Then in the 55’, Canada nearly scored on another big chance, but Paulsen made the save on the Habibullah attempt.
Canada thought they had the tying goal in the ’57 off a Nelson and Habibullah combination that was ultimately called off because of an offside play after review by the Video Assistant Referee. On the play, Nelson ran from his right and played it to Habibullah, Habibullah then held the ball for Nelson to round him and chipped it over the defence with Nelson alone to beat Paulson with a low shot from inside the box.
Canada had another big chance foiled by Paulsen in the 79’ after substitute Sean Rea broke in behind the defence. At the other end, New Zealand nearly made it 2:0 in the 83’, but Himaras had his chance to make a big save on the opportunity. Canada kept pushing deep into eight minutes of added time but could not break the New Zealand 11-man backline for the equaliser.