By RON FANFAIR
Diamond Simpson is not satisfied with the bronze medal she won at the inaugural Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Associations of Soccer (CONCACAF) Under-17 championship in Trinidad & Tobago two years ago.
She wants gold and she hopes her quest will be fulfilled when she returns to the twin-island republic for the second World Under-17 competition next month.
The 17-year-old Scarborough-born midfielder, who plays for Dixie Dragons, is in the national 21-member squad named last week to take part in the 16-team tournament that runs from September 5-25. She’s one of two players — the other is goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo – who competed in the first Under-17 World Cup in New Zealand in 2008.
Canada was bounced 3-1 in the quarter-finals after winning its opening match against host country New Zealand 1-0 and drawing 1-1 with Colombia and 0-0 with Denmark.
The squad also includes 17-year-old multi-talented striker Zakiya McIntosh who enters Grade 12 this semester at Pickering High School.
McIntosh played rugby last year and was on her school’s track team in Grade Nine, finishing fourth in the hurdles and reaching the 100-metre finals in the midget category at the provincial championships.
“Zakiya is very talented and speed is her greatest asset,” said her high school track and field coach, Cyril Sahadath. “I know she’s now focused on soccer and I expect her to go very far in the sport.”
McIntosh has her sights set on joining Pickering High School graduate and national Under-20 player Christine Exeter at the University of Louisville next year. Exeter is a freshman this season.
Canada advanced to this year’s junior World Cup by winning the CONCACAF qualifying tournament last March in Costa Rica, defeating Mexico 1-0 in the final and the USA 5-3 on penalty kicks in the semi-finals.
Head coach Bryan Rosenfeld said the squad has worked hard in the past four months since qualifying for the tournament.
“Now that the final selections have been made, our focus is on the details that will best prepare the team for the group stage,” he said. “The players and staff are anxious and excited to begin our final preparation process as our opening match grows closer.”
The Canadian team is in Florida this week for a one-week camp before travelling to T & T. Canada plays its first match on September 6 against Ghana before facing Ireland three days later and Brazil on September 13.
The other tournament participants are host country T & T, Chile, Germany, Japan, Korea Republic, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain, Venezuela and defending champions the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea which beat the USA 2-1 in extra time in the inaugural championship.