When Canada face England on Wednesday night in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico, they’ll be looking to do something that no other Canadian team has done in the history of the tournament: collect points.
No Canada side has ever won or even drawn at an under-17 world championship, and with Sean Fleming’s team having fallen to Uruguay 3-0 on opening day of Group C play, they’ll need to break that trend if they want to advance to the knockout stage.
Their next chance comes against a team that Fleming says will be a very difficult test for his players.
“England definitely are very well coached, very well organized, they have some great individual qualities as well,” Fleming told media on a conference call from Pachuca, Mexico, on Tuesday. “It’ll be a great pleasure and a great challenge to face them.”
The English won their opener against Rwanda 2-0 over the weekend, and will be looking to secure a place in the round of 16 with a victory against Canada. The Canadians, however, aim to make England’s task a tough one by playing largely the same up-tempo style that caused problems for Uruguay for roughly 60 minutes on Sunday night.
“We have to really be focused and conscientious for the 90 minutes,” Fleming said. “They’re a great team, player in and player out. But I think we’re also a good team and I’m really focused on tweaking a lot of little things that we have to do.”
If facing England isn’t already a daunting enough proposition, Canada will have to do so without the services of standout goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau, who suffered a knee injury in the dying minutes of the Uruguay match and will likely miss the rest of the group stage.
“I think Maxime is going to be out for two weeks, so I will not have him available for [Wednesday],” Fleming said. “The way I look at it, it’s an opportunity for someone else.”
With Toronto FC Academy goalkeeping duo Quillan Roberts and Chad Bush serving as backups to the injured Crépeau, Fleming hopes that one of the two will grab hold the suddenly vacant No. 1 shirt.
"They both looked good in training,” Fleming said. “I look forward to seeing either one of them go forward and have a great performance. We've had injuries before, and others have stepped up and really done a job for us."