Canada wrap up U-17 series in Portugal with an important win

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Story by Richard Scott

Canada wrapped up their 11-day Women’s U-17 National Team camp in Portugal with an important 2:0 win against their hosts at the Cidade do Futebol in Algés, Lisboa. The camp was part of Canada’s preparations for next year’s Concacaf Women’s Under-17 Championship in Mexico with are now less than three months away.

Canada lost 0:2 on Tuesday then reversed the score with a 2:0 win on Thursday 23 November with goals by Adriana Bianchin and Annabelle Chukwu. Nineteen different Canadians saw action across the two matches including Olivia Busby, Khadijah Cissé and Bridget Mutipula who all made their international youth debuts across the two-match series.

“To create as many chances as we did in both matches was fantastic for our first international matches against an experienced opponent,” said Emma Humphries, Canada Soccer’s Women’s U-17 Coach. “We probably created the same number of chances in both games, but today we put them away and came away with the win.”

Humphries said that she was pleased with the performances in both matches, but she had challenged her players to come out with a win on Thursday after losing the first match on some unfortunate mistakes. Across the camp, Humphries has emphasized the opportunity for these young Canadians to learn from their mistakes and grow from the experience of playing youth international matches against a European opponent.

“Our ultimate goal is qualifying for the FIFA U-17 World Cup through the Concacaf Under-17 Championship in February,” said Humphries. “This was a good step forward for our group.”

To qualify for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Dominican Republic 2024, Canada will need to finish top-two in their group and then win their Concacaf Semifinals match on Friday 9 February 2024. With hosts Dominican Republic already qualified, there are only two more spots for the FIFA U-17 World Cup up for grabs. Canada will face Puerto Rico, Panama and USA in the group phase before the Concacaf Semifinals.

Since last year’s Concacaf Under-15 Championship in August 2022, Canada Soccer have dressed 29 different players born 2007 or later in national youth camps. The national pool is indeed bigger through players who feature in the National Development Centres across Canada, but most of Canada’s players are only at the start of their 2023-24 season after a late summer break.

Twenty-one players took part in the Concacaf Women’s Under-17 Qualifiers in late August when they qualified for the 2024 Concacaf Women’s Under-17 Championship. Canada had two matches in that 17-day window with back-to-back wins to eliminate both Dominica and Bermuda from the first qualification round on the road to the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

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