The Vancouver Whitecaps defender Gianfranco Facchineri scored the decisive penalty against Costa Rica to give Canada a 4-3 win at the quarter-finals of the CONCACAF Men’s Under-17 Championship. Thanks to this win, the Canadian U-17 soccer team has also secured a place at the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup, which will take place in Brazil later this year.
The Canadians will face the tournament hosts the United States today. The two sides have already played in the group phase, with the U.S. winning the game 3-2 after being two goals down at the half time.
So far, Canada played at 6 editions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup but only made two appearances in last 24 years. Their first appearance at the tournament was back in 1987 when Canada hosted the event, and the last was in the United Arab Emirates 6 years ago. The Canadians have never managed to get past the group stage, and are yet to record a win at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Facchineri scored the crucial goal in the penalty series after no one managed to win the game after 120 minutes of play. The 17-year-old from Windsor, Ontario kept his nerves, sending the ball one way, while Costa Rican goalie George Barrett dove the other way.
Three other penalties in the series were converted by Kamron Habibullah, Matt Catavolo and Julian Altobelli, while Jacen Russell-Rowe’s shot was saved by Barrett.
Keymark Davis, Geancarlo Castro and Maikel Gonzalez scored from the spot for the Costa Ricans, while Jordy Hernandez and Jordy Evans failed to score. Hernandez’s attempt was denied by Marc Kouadio, while Evans hit the bar.
Canada took the lead in the first-half stoppage time. Jeremie Omeonga was fouled by Barrett inside the box, while Jayden Nelson converted the penalty, scoring his fifth goal of the tournament. Costa Rica replied only 4 minutes into the second half, also from the spot. Kouadio gave his best, but Castro evened the score.
Canada could have won the game in overtime, but Altobelli’s shot in the 100th minute ended up hitting the crossbar.
Canada was drawn in Group F, with the United States, Barbados and Guatemala. After losing to the US, the Canadians beat Guatemala 4-2 and then hammered Barbados 4-0. In the Round of 16, they outplayed Curacao, scoring 4 without a reply.
Costa Rica beat Curacao and Suriname, and drew with Panama, before beating Nicaragua 2-1 in the Round of 16.
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