Story and photos by Richard Scott
As Canada chases history at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Indonesia 2023, this year’s young group of 15-, 16- and 17-year old footballers are drawing inspiration from fans back home as well as the comfort from family and friends who are watching them from TV in Canada or in the stands in Surakarta.
“To all the friends and family that came over to the game, it was a great support and we felt a lot more comfortable,” said goalkeeper Nathaniel Abraham, Canada’s Player of the Match from the opener against Spain. “It felt like I had someone from close to home supporting me and it gave me a lot more confidence to play in the game.”
The current U-17 squad have set an objective to earn Canada their first-ever win at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in this year’s group phase at Indonesia 2023. After a tough loss to the European semifinalists Spain, Canada will face the Asian semifinalists Uzbekistan in their second group match at Surakarta on Monday.
“That was their first-ever FIFA World Cup match and it didn’t go as they would have hoped playing a man down for so long,” said Andrew Olivieri, Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Youth Excel Director and U-17 Coach at the FIFA U-17 World Cup. “It wasn’t what they dreamed of, but they did quite the job and I think they had some satisfaction knowing that they’ve kept us in the tournament with a result that allows us to try to make up the points in the last two matches of the group phase.”
Across Group B, Canada will face Uzbekistan on Monday 13 November at Stadion Manahan (19.00 local / 07.00 ET / 04.00 PT) and then Mali on Thursday 16 November at Gelora Bung Tomo Stadium in Benowo (16.00 local / 04.00 ET / 01.00 PT). In Canada throughout the competition, all the matches will be broadcast through TSN and RDS. Fans will find extended coverage across Canada Soccer’s digital channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter featuring the hashtag #canm17.
This marks the first FIFA U-17 World Cup since the global pandemic and the first time Indonesia has hosted a FIFA youth tournament. Beyond the group stage which runs 10-18 November, the Round of 16 is scheduled for 20-21 November, the Quarterfinals are scheduled for 24-25 November, the Semifinals on 28 November, the Match for Third Place on 1 December, and the Final on Saturday 2 December.
“We’re learning from our last match, it was a hard defeat, but we’re going into our next match excited and ready to play,” said midfielder Jeevan Badwal on the eve of Canada’s second group match. “After our training today, we’re ready for Uzbekistan.”
Both Canada and Uzbekistan lost their opening match on Friday at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, so they will both be looking for their first points in the tournament. Before the Canada-Uzbekistan match, group leaders Mali and Spain will go head-to-head at 16.00 local at the same stadium. After the Monday matches, both Canada and Mali will travel on Tuesday to Benowo.
“We’re playing for you guys and looking to get that first win, so we hope you are watching and cheering for us,” said centre back Chimere Omeze.
CANADA SOCCER’S MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM PROGRAM
Canada Soccer’s Men’s EXCEL Program channels our nation’s exceptional players from the best soccer environments across the globe. Domestically, the Canada Soccer Pathway works in collaboration with our provincial and territory partners as well as our professional clubs and academies. For Canada’s elite players, the program emphasizes player development on the pathway to representing Canada’s Men’s National Team in international soccer.
The FIFA U-17 World Cup Indonesia 2023™ provides an important development step towards future Concacaf and FIFA youth competitions at the U-17 and U-20 levels and more importantly a step towards competing at the international level for Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team at Concacaf, FIFA and Olympic tournaments. Since the last FIFA U-17 World Cup four years ago at Brazil 2019, already a trio of those players have earned call ups to the Men’s National Team (Jayden Nelson, Ralph Prio, Jacen Russell-Rowe).
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