It was a match eminently winnable, but Canada u17 can have few complaints at the eventual outcome.
Not once, but twice they were (correctly) saved by VAR, firstly with a 26th min offside decision, then secondly in the 90th minute, but still contrived to lose the game after a goalmouth scramble in the 4th minute of added time. David, a positive 64th minute replacement for Maestro, was the Angola hero, blasting into the net from close range after Canadian ‘keeper Kouadio was unable to hold onto a grounded ball under challenge.
It was a heart-breaking result for the Canadians, who must now defeat New Zealand on Friday and hope for the best if they are to avoid the early boat home.
That substitution by Angolan coach, the Portuguese Pedro Goncalves, was one of three which tilted the balance back towards the Africans midway through the second period after a good passage of play for Canada who had been gaining the ascendency . Jacen Russell-Rowe and Ralph Priso, the combination that conjured the Canucks’ goal were also replaced by Giraldo (61) and Kane (71) midway through the half. Canada rarely looked as dangerous or as confident thereafter, and their opponents seized the initiative.
Although not apparent, perhaps the pair were carrying injuries. If not, Andrew Oliveri’s decision to withdraw Russell-Rowe in particular, was a baffling one.
The Canadians had enjoyed the balance of possession during a first-half, in which Angola looked more spritely, despite Canada having the better scoring attempts, headlined by Habibullah’s 22 yard effort in the 2nd minute which rebounded from the bar, and a very good Geovanni save from Nelson’s well-executed free-kick.
Disaster struck on 31 mins however when Saturday’s hero became Tuesday’s villain. Why Marc Kouadio rushed as he did from his line to meet a ball launched from halfway when his captain Facchineri looked to have matters under control, only the young goalkeeper will know. He’ll learn from this error of course, but Zini was left with the relatively simple task of glancing the ball into the unguarded net. It was the Angolan forward’s second goal in two games.
Although Angola always looked threatening with the pace of Capito and Zito, who already has two senior caps, in the wide areas, Canada opened the second-half brightly. The Reds received their just rewards when Russell-Rowe banged home his Canadian record-equalling second goal of the tournament from 18 yards after being released by Priso.
While Angola went desperately close moments after the restart, it was Canada having their best spell of the game with Nelson and Russell-Rowe combining effectively and Habibullah opting to shoot (Geovanni produced a diving save) from 22 yards, when a pass right, to either one of two unchecked colleagues should have produced greater dividend.
The African side became more offensive as the game entered its last quarter, Canada struggled to regain a foothold, save for one opportunity which fell Kerr’s way on 78, the striker being foiled by a timely Angolan boot.
Then the second VAR reprieve came Canada’s way in the last minute of regulation, after the ever-dangerous Zito raced clear of the defence to slip a low finish past Kouadi. The review over-ruled the on-field officials and it looked like a hugely relieved Canada had secured its first point of the competition.
That only lasted a few minutes until the late goalmouth scramble and David’s untimely intervention, slamming the ball home amongst the chaos. This time there was to be no technological reprieve, and Canada’s hopes of remaining in Brazil until after the weekend now hang by a thread.
Angola - Geovani - Porfirio, Maestro (David, 64), Gege (c) (Mimo, 85), - Afonso, Domingos, Zini - Zito, Pablo, Capito (Abdoul, 80)
Canada - Kouadio - Franklin, Facchineri (c), Pecile (Altobelli, 83), Ferdinand - Demian, Priso (Giraldo, 61), Kerr - Habibullah, Russell-Rowe (Kane, 71), Nelson
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)