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Canada ready to unleash Huitema
Fans will be in for a football feast from Thursday with the best that Concacaf has to offer in Women’s youth football on show at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva as the confederation’s top eight nations compete for three spots at the 2018 FIFA Under 20 Women’s World Cup in France.
With the United States set on defending its 2015 title, Canada will be entering the competition with its hopes resting on pacey forward Jordyn Huitema. She was included in their final 20-player roster announced on Friday.
“Our main objective will be to qualify for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup to ensure this group will again experience major tournaments, but we have also set some goals in terms of how we want to play and how we want to represent Canada as a team,” said Bev Priestman, Canada Football Women’s U-20 Head Coach and Women’s National EXCEL Director U15-U23.
“Some of these players have had the opportunity to play with Canada national team so they’ve experienced the unique culture that has been created within the team. Our hope is they will bring some of that experience back to this group, not only on the field tactically but also off it.”
Canada’s roster includes seven players who have previous team appearances.
Huitema broke into Canada’s senior women’s side during the last calendar year, making seven appearances at the international level. The teenage striker then opened her senior international scoring account with a brace in a 6-0 friendly win over Costa Rica on June 11th.
Those goals in Toronto not only made Huitema the second youngest goalscorer in Canadian women’s team history, she then became the first Canadian international—male or female—to score for her country’s U-17, U-20, and senior national sides in a calendar year. For her efforts, Huitema was recently named Canada’s U-17 Women’s Player of the Year for 2017.
It is an impressive set of milestones for a player that is still finding her feet at the top level.
“I think that’s partially because of the environment I have been put in,” the 16-year-old said in a recent interview with FIFA.com.
Though she has had a taste of the senior international game, Huitema is ready to play her part in helping the Canadians qualify for both Uruguay and France in 2018, having made her FIFA tournament debut as a 15-year-old at last year’s U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan.
“Who wouldn’t want to play in a World Cup? It’s a great honour to do that,” the forward said of next year’s tournaments.
“Any opportunity that I can get to play for the national team programme, I would love to do that. Looking ahead with those teams, it’s about bringing the experience that I have gained over the past few months with the senior team and the it back to the youth teams.”
T&T will come up against Huitema and Canada on January 20th from 6:30pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
T&T head coach Jamaal Shabazz is aware of Canada’s strengths but will focus on that hurdle at the right time. “We are aware that every team in this competition has strong qualities but we also have our strengths which we will aim to maximise and make the best use of from match to match. Our first hurdle is Haiti,” Shabazz told TTFA Media.
“It is important for us to get a decent start against them and set the pace for the rest of the competition,” he added.
And while the Concacaf championship takes centre stage at the Home of Football next week, South American action will also get going with Ecuador is set to host the eighth edition of the South American U-20 Women’s Championship, where ten nations will be competing for two berths at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018, starting today (Saturday) until January 31st. Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru (Group A); Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela (Group B).
Venezuela has been reported as a strong candidate and it will go into the event with the nucleus of the squad that finished fourth at the 2016 Under 17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan. Of the 22 players Venezuela have taken t to Ecuador, 15 have already played in an U-17 or U-20 World Cup.