Canada downs Puerto Rico to secure qualification for the FIFA U-17 World Cup

Guatemala City –

Canada booked tickets to the FIFA U-17 World Cup and beat Puerto Rico 3-0 in the quarter-finals of the CONCACAF Men’s U-17 Championship on Wednesday.

Kyler Vojvodic, Antoine N’Diaye and Lazar Stefanovic scored at the Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores.

Goalscorers represented the academies of all three Canadian MLS teams and included Vojvodich of the Vancouver Whitecaps, Ndiaye of CF Montreal and Stefanovic of Toronto FC.

“I’m proud of the boys. They did everything we asked them to do,” said Canadian coach Andrew Olivieri. “They managed the game well today. but I managed my emotions better.”

The four semi-finalists from the 20-team CONCACAF tournament, which runs through Sunday, will advance to the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru in November. The World Championships were originally scheduled for 2021, but have been postponed due to the pandemic.

Mexico and the United States qualified with Tuesday’s quarterfinal wins. Former CONCACAF champions Mexico beat El Salvador 2-0, while 2019 runners-up USA defeated hosts Guatemala 5-3.

Panama faced Honduras in the second half of the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Canada will face the USA on Friday in a rematch of the 2019 semifinals, which the USA won 4-0.

Vojvodich opened the scoring in the eighth minute, sending home a perfect cross from Jeevan Badwal. Ndiaye added to the lead in the 36th from the penalty spot after Lucas Ozimek was sickled down in the box by Puerto Rican captain Eitan Solomiani.

Stefanovic scored a low free kick from just outside the penalty box in the 55th minute that went over the Puerto Rican defensive wall and into the corner of the goal to make it 3–0.

Canada beat Haiti 3-0 on Saturday to advance to the quarterfinals. Puerto Rico, who advanced to his round by direct knockout in the CONCACAF U-17 qualifying event last fall, defeated Costa Rica on penalties after drawing 1–1 in the Round of 16.

Canada beat Trinidad and Tobago 3-2 and Barbados 2-0 to finish second in Group F 2-1-0 before losing 1-0 to the USA.

The top three teams from each of the four opening round groups advanced to the knockout phase, joining Puerto Rico and fellow qualifiers Bermuda, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic to advance to the round of 16.

Canada has appeared in seven of the last 18 Men’s U-17 World Cups, the first being held in 1987. Canada have never made it past the group stage and their last match in Brazil in 2019 It was 0-3-0.

Mexico won the 2019 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, beating the USA 2-1 after extra time in the final in Bradenton, Florida.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on February 22, 2023.

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