PUEBLA, Mexico – For Canadian Under-20 national team goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau, qualifying for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup would be the perfect remedy for what has been a difficult period of his still burgeoning international career.
Crépeau, a member of the Montreal Impact Academy, was Canada’s starting goalkeeper at the 2011 U-17 World Cup in Mexico, only to have his tournament cut short after a collision with a Uruguayan player near the end of Canada’s first game of the tournament.
It was a freak collision as the play had already been whistled for offside, but it resulted in a serious knee injury that kept him out of action for the rest of the competition. What followed was a frustrating period of time where he also suffered an injury to the other knee and then broke a hand.
“It was difficult mentally,” Crépeau told reporters on Thursday after Canada’s training session. “It was difficult but now I keep also in my head that it’s never finished and I also have my objective to be here today and I’m here so that’s important.”
Seven minutes into the second half of Friday’s 2-1 loss to Cuba in Canada's opening game of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, Crépeau as forced to make an acrobatic save diving to his right to stop a point-blank header off a Cuban player.
Though the result wasn’t was either he or his teammates were hoping, there was a small measure of consolation that he’s back performing in international competition.
“Obviously it feels good to keep your team in the game," he said. "It feels really great but in the meantime it’s my job so I’m just doing the best for the team and for me.”
He quickly added that the most important thing is helping his team secure a favorable result – a win or a draw will suffice – against Nicaragua on Friday (9 pm ET, sportsnet.ca in Canada) and advancing to the quarterfinals.
Immediately after the World Cup injury, Crépeau said he made it his main objective was to get to the U-20 World Cup with this team and prove his that he has what it takes to play on the world stage.
“Basically it would be the best thing in the world right now for me," he said. "I really didn’t get a chance to play all the games but at Under-20 it would be amazing and great for me.”