Canada is World Cup bound after its women’s Under-17 side trounced Jamaica 5-0 in the Confederation of North, Central American & Caribbean Associations of Soccer (CONCACAF) regional championship in Montego Bay last week.
“I am real happy,” said an elated coach Bev Priestman after the contest. “The girls stuck to our game plan and deserve the win.”
The Canadians and Mexico will represent the region in next year’s World Cup in Costa Rica. The Mexicans won the regional tournament, defeating Canada on penalty kicks after the two teams were deadlocked at nil all at the end of extra time last Saturday night.
And, Jamaica has been grouped with the United States, Costa Rica and Guatemala for the CONCACAF women’s Under-20 competition in the Cayman Islands next January.
The tournament features eight teams split into two groups of four sides. The other group comprises Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico, Honduras and host country the Cayman Islands.
The top two finishers in each group will advance to the semi-finals, with the winners along with the third place match winner qualifying for next year’s FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Canada.
United States coach Michelle French was at last week’s draw.
“The respect we have for every team in the tournament, whether they are in our group or not, is immense,” she said. “Each team enters the tournament with one goal in mind and that is to qualify for the Under-20 Women’s World Cup. I have no doubt each team will be prepared for the challenge and that will make the tournament exciting and unpredictable.”
The competition will take place January 9-19.
Meanwhile, Nigeria has captured the FIFA World Cup Under-17 crown for a record fourth time.
The West Africans shut out Mexico 3-0 in the final in the United Arab Emirates to crown a successful year for Nigerian soccer after the senior team clinched the Africa Cup of Nations title last February.
Manu Garba, the Under-17 team coach, dedicated the victory to the country’s president, Goodluck Jonathan.
“This trophy is for the president who had a strong belief in us despite the fact that we came second at the African championship,” said Garba. “We were really fired up when he hosted us after that championship and we are looking forward to meeting him again with the World Cup.”
At a reception in Abuja last weekend, Jonathan announced that each player will receive $12,600.
“You won fairly and convincingly and we are proud of you,” he said. “The victory is for the whole of Africa and the beginning of a new era in the revival of the nation’s competitive spirit. Within just seven months, the team has transformed themselves from being second best in Africa to being the best in the world.”
Nigeria clinched the tournament’s Fair Play Award and goalkeeper Dele Alampasu was awarded the Golden Glove for being the top goalkeeper. Attacking midfielder Kelehci Iheanacho was the most valuable player.
The youth side won six of its seven matches – one was drawn – and scored 25 goals while conceding just five.
Since the inception of the youth World Cup 28 years ago, Nigeria has been dominant, winning in 1985, 1993, 2007 and 2013. The West Africans were also runners-up in 1987, 2001 and 2009.
And, Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure is among five candidates for the British Broadcasting Corporation Soccer Player of the Year Award. This is the fifth consecutive year he has made the shortlist.
The other contenders are Nigerians Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel, Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Burkina Faso winger Jonathan Pitroipa.