Another difficult test faces the Canadian u17 MNT tomorrow afternoon in Brasilia, when they take on tournament debutants Angola, in each country’s second group game.
The Palanquinhas impressed in their 2-1 win over New Zealand on the same day as Canada opened with a 1-4 reverse against host nation Brazil.
The Angolans are a technically skilled and physical side and dominated for large spells of their opening game in which left-footed, right-winger Zito tormented the All Whites defence as the match wore on. Zini was the only Angolan to register when he forced his side ahead in the 6th minute. Victory was assured through the unfortunate Harry Bark’s own goal on the hour.
Canada has three of Saturday’s back four all on yellow cards, captain Facchineri, and full-backs, Franklin and Goulbourne, and will wait on the fitness of Montreal Impact’s Matthew Catavolo, who exited the fray last time with a suspected calf-strain around the hour mark.
Facchineri, certainly not getting ahead of himself, remarked, “Angola will be a different challenge [than Brazil], and New Zealand a different one from that. So it’s going to be difficult in different ways, but I think we’ll be prepared for it.”
All three subs from Saturday, Habibullah, Russell-Rowe who scored, and Rea (another Montreal Impact Academy player), made positive contributions when introduced to the action against Brazil, giving coach Andrew Oliveri much to consider before settling upon his starting line-up to face Angola.
Jayden Nelson, despite showing glimpses of promise had a frustrating evening against the Selecao, but is still certain occupy the main striking role tomorrow.
Coach Oliveri was upbeat and optimistic following his side’s meeting with those famous yellow-shirts, “The boys would have never been ready for this match. They would never have seen of this quality and intensity so far, and now that they’ve lived it, and seen them grow and get better throughout the game, they’ll be ready for the rest of the way now.
“There’s going to be a level of actual confidence coming out of this [defeat to Brazil] afterwards, that we can play. Now that we’ve lived it and we know now how hard it’s going to be.”
African Nations have begun the tournament in great form, with Nigeria, whom Angola defeated in a 3rd/4th place-play-off in the African Championship, coming from behind to defeat Hungary 4-2, and Senegal making their debut, also overcoming the loss of an early goal, to impressively defeat a strong USA 4-1, three goals arriving in the last 20 mins.
Senegal are at the tournament only because Africa’s beaten continental finalists, Guinea, were disqualified for fielding an over-age player in qualifying.
Cameroon play Tajikistan this evening when another African success is expected.
CONCACAF champions Mexico also play this evening against Paraguay and will be hoping to secure a first point in this tournament for the North and Central American region. As well as the opening defeats for Canada and the USA, Haiti went down by the odd goal in three to South Korea.
Interestingly the referee and assistants for tomorrow’s Canada-Angola game comprise an all-female team, with 36-year-old Uruguayan Claudia Umpierrez taking control in the middle.
Referee - Claudia UMPIERREZ (URU)
Asst Refs - Luciana MASCARANA (URU) Monica AMBOYA (ECU)
Fourth official - Diego HARO (PER)
VAR - Ricardo DE BURGOS (ESP)
Asst VAR - Piero MAZA (CHI)