The last time Canada participated in a FIFA U-17 World Cup, most of the current team was still in diapers. A few hadn’t even been born yet.
The Canadians last took part in the U-17 championship in 1995, losing every match and only scoring a single goal. Obviously, the current crop will be looking to improve on that when the 2011 tournament kicks off in Mexico over the weekend, and they will be relying on the experience of a strong showing at the CONCACAF Championship to help guide the way.
Drawn into Group C with Uruguay, Rwanda and England, the Canucks will face perhaps their toughest challenge of the group stage in their very first match. Sean Fleming’s side will open their World Cup on Sunday night vs. Uruguay, a team which finished second in the South American qualification tournament behind champions Brazil and ahead of perennial powers Argentina.
Canada meet England in their second match on June 22, before closing out the group stage against African side Rwanda on June 25.
If the Canadians are to advance to the knockout round, they will need to replicate the solid performances of many key individuals in the CONCACAF qualification tournament. Captain Bryce Alderson will be looked upon to provide leadership and guile from the midfield, while attacking duo Keven Aleman and Michael Petrasso — who combined for six goals in qualification — will be expected to provide a spark in the final third.
At the other end of the field, goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau leads a sturdy defensive corps that didn’t give up a single goal in the CONCACAF tourney until extra time of the final match.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Maxime Crépeau (Académie Impact Montréal), Quillan Roberts (Toronto FC Academy), Chad Bush (Toronto FC Academy)
DEFENDERS (6): Tyler Pasher (Toronto FC Academy), Ismaïl Benomar (Académie Impact Montréal), Daniel Stanese (Vancouver Whitecaps Residency), Parker Seymour (Toronto FC Academy), Luca Gasparotto (SC Toronto), Adam Polakiewicz (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency)
MIDFIELDERS(11): Samuel Piette (FC Metz), Marco Lapenna (Académie Impact Montréal), Bryce Alderson (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency), Keven Aleman (Unattached), Chris Nanco (Sigma FC Academy), Matteo Pasquotti (Vancouver Whitecaps Residency), Omari Morris (Toronto FC Academy), Sergio Camargo (Toronto FC Academy), Alex Halis (SC Toronto), Michael Petrasso (Toronto FC Academy), Wesley Cain (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency)
FORWARDS (3): Sadi Jalali (Edmonton Juventus), Jay Chapman (Toronto FC Academy), Yassin Essa (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency)