It’s been almost a year since Canada secured their first-ever points at a U-17 World Cup thanks to a historic draw with England, and then another with Rwanda to boot. With qualifying for the 2013 tournament less than a year away, preparations for a return to the event began in earnest with the eight-team Torneo delle Nazioni in Slovenia.
Canadian U-17 head coach Sean Fleming (above) took 18 players to Europe and trained in Verona, Italy, before drawing defending World Cup champions Mexico 1-1 in a pre-tournament friendly in Trieste on April 21 thanks to a first-half equalizer from Toronto FC Academy product Jordan Hamilton.
The Canadians then kicked off group play against Israel on April 25 in Rence, Slovenia, with a 1-0 defeat in a 60-minute match. The Israelis capitalized after Canada defender Aron Mkungilwa was sent off for a second yellow card with just 10 minutes remaining.
A day later, the young Canucks lost by an identical 1-0 score line to Italy in Bilje after conceding just 13 minutes in.
With a top-two place in their group out of reach and no hope of advancing in the tournament, the Canadians concluded things on a high one day later with 2-0 victory over Slovenia. Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency player Marco Bustos got things started with a goal in the 21st minute and then Phillip Makinde doubled the advantage right before the half.
Before the camp ended, Canada got one more game in together, this time on the Italian side of the border in Grado against local club side Olimpia Mondova on Sunday. Fleming’s side scored a 3-0 victory, with a brace from Hanson Boakai and a goal from Andrew Gordon.
CONCACAF qualification for the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup kicks off in Panama next April.