“We came here to progress in the tournament, and we are still looking for our first win ever at this level. That first win has to come against New Zealand,” said Andrew Olivieri, Canada Soccer’s Men’s EXCEL U-14 to U-17 Program Director.
“That could be enough to get us through, if we can get that win and close the goal difference, we may see ourselves achieve our objective.”
It really is down to the wire for the Canadian team now. They must defeat New Zealand in Brasilia tomorrow evening and hope that results elsewhere go their way.
It could though be a case of ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’ should they progress as one the best 3rd placed teams, as it’s almost certain they will face record five-time-winners, Nigeria in the Round of 16.
But preservation of tournament life must be the target, so the Canadian team who came into this tournament with genuine hopes of securing their first-ever finals win at this level, simply must beat the All-Whites. A two or three goal winning margin will help in the cause for advancement as well.
Unlike Canada, the boys from down-under have made it out of the group previously in this competition, three times in fact, but didn’t advance further on each occasion.
Oliveri will be hoping to have Matt Catavolo back in his starting line-up, the young Montreal Impact Academy product had to leave the field in the opener against Brazil with a calf problem and only warmed the bench in the second game against Angola on Tuesday.
The coach may be tempted to give another Impact player an opportunity, since this could be the side’s last outing in Brazil should they fail to win. Benjamin Collins, a goalkeeper who played in two matches throughout the qualifying campaign, may get his opportunity in goal. First choice Marc Kouadio starred in the opening game against Brazil, but his error led to Angola’s first goal in the second group game.
Jacen Russell-Rowe has flourished in the tournament scoring both Canadian goals. No Canadian has ever scored three times in a u17 World Cup finals, so the record tomorrow is up for grabs. It’s a huge incentive for the Toronto youngster, as is victory, and progress, to the rest of his team-mates.
It’s another chance for Toronto’s Jayden Nelson to come to the fore. The team’s top performer and goalscorer with 5 goals in qualifying, has looked good in spells, but so far has flattered to deceive. Now would be a perfect time for Nelson to re-discover the form of which the coaching team know he is capable.
The Canucks will be led again by captain Gianfranco Facchineri of Vancouver Whitecaps, a steadying influence at the back. And he might need to be just that as the All-Whites danger-man is likely to be Western Suburbs’ striker Matthew Garbutt. Wests play their football in the New Zealand second-tier, Central Premier League.
Garbutt shone in New Zealand’s opener with Angola, deliciously nutmegging a defender before supplying an equalizer in the 54th minute. The joy was short-lived however as team-mate Harry Bark put through his own goal 6 minutes later. for Angola’s winner.
In New Zealand’s second game against hosts Brazil, they opened brightly, surprising The Selecao by throwing numbers into attack. They conceded however in the 20th minute, although not again until the closing ten minutes of the game, when Brazil, reduced to 10-men since just before half-time, added two more to win 3-0.
The game at the Bezzerao, Brasilia tomorrow evening should be a tight one, possibly too close to call. But there will be plenty of Canadian celebration should the boys get that elusive first win in history. After all it could just propel them into the last 16, and few more days in sunny Brazil.
TSN will be screening all the action LIVE tomorrow (Friday) evening at 7pm EST.
Match Officials -
Referee: Mario DIAZ DE VIVAR (PAR)
Asst Refs: Milciades SALDIVAR (PAR), Roberto Casiano CANETE LURAGHI (PAR)
4th Official: Peter WAWERU (KEN)
VAR: Armando Villareal (USA)