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With U20 World Cup in its sights, Canada needs to ‘take it up a notch’ vs. Mexico

Sarah Stratigakis
Canada's Sarah Stratigakis shields the ball from a Haitian opponent during the group stage. (Mexsport/Canada Soccer photo)

COUVA, Trinidad — Canada takes on Mexico in the semifinal of the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship on Friday with a berth in the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup on the line.

The United States, the four-time defending champions, play Haiti in the day’s first semifinal.

The top three finishers will advance to the world championship in August so Friday’s semifinal losers will have one more shot via the bronze medal game.

The championship and third-place games go Sunday.

Canada and the United States won their respective preliminary-round groups with 3-0-0 records. The Canadian women beat Costa Rica 3-1, Trinidad & Tobago 4-1 and Haiti 4-0.

Mexico went 2-1-0, losing 2-1 to the Americans.

“I’ve been really happy with our attacking quality but I think going into the next game we’re clear that we’ve now got to take it up a notch,” said Canada’s head coach Bev Priestman. “Mexico are a well organised team with excellent offensive capabilities, so we know we have to bring more now and set ourselves up for what we hope to be a final match in the CONCACAF Championship.”

The two teams met at the same stage at the 2015 CONCACAF Championship with Canada winning 5-4 on penalties after the game finished in a 0-0 draw.

Canada’s Jordyn Huitema leads the 2018 tournament with five goals. Teammate Shana Flynn and Haiti’s Nérilia Mondésir have three each. The top scorer of the tournament will be presented with the Golden Boot after the final match Sunday.

“We’ve come out of our group with nine points, that’s what we set out to do – to top our group,” Priestman said. “We’ve also shown our attacking quality, with the leading tournament scorer on our team, which is always a great confidence boost going into a knockout round.”

Host France, China, England, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea and Spain have already qualified for the 16-country U20 World Cup.

Canada has made it to six of seven editions of the U20 World Cup, serving as hosts of the event in 2002 and 2014. Its best showing was in 2002 when it was runner-up to the USA, losing the final 1-0 after extra time.

The Canadian women made the quarterfinals in 2014, losing 2-0 to eventual champion Germany.

Canada’s match against Mexico will take place at 5: 30 p.m. ET Friday, available in Canada live via CONCACAF at https://www.youtube.com/concacaf.

2018 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship Trinidad & Tobago – Schedule

All times ET

Friday – Semifinals
2:30 p.m. USA vs Haiti
5:30 p.m. Canada vs Mexico

Sunday – third Place Match and Final
3 p.m. Loser SF1 v Loser SF2
5 p.m. Winner SF1 v Winner SF2

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