Canada vying for U-20 Women’s World Cup berth

Sarah Kinzner, left. (Martin Rose/Getty)

Canada has been a regular participant at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup over the last 13 years, establishing itself as one of the best sides in its region at the under-20 level.

Canada will try to build upon that reputation with a strong showing at this month’s CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship in Honduras—a tournament that doubles as the qualifiers for next year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

Here’s all you need to know about this year’s CONCACAF Championship.

More on Canada’s U20 team: Q&A: Canadian U-20 coach Daniel Worthington || Canada names U-20 roster

How does the tournament work?
Canada will compete in the eight-nation CONCACAF finals from December 3-13 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Canada is in Group A and will play against Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Honduras. Group B consists of the United States, Mexico, Panama and Haiti.

The top two teams in each group advance to the semifinals, with the two finalists earning automatic berths for next year’s World Cup. The winner of the third-place match, contested between the two semifinal losers, will also qualify for the World Cup.

The 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup will take place in Papua New Guinea from November 13 to December 3.

Canada’s opponents
Canada opens group-stage play against Trinidad and Tobago on Dec. 3. It then faces Jamaica on Dec. 5 and wraps things up against Honduras two days later.

What can Canada expect from its group-stage opponents?

“Trinidad and Jamaica will give us a similar look and feel. That can be good for us because we can take one game and improve to the next game to bring that momentum forward. We can’t take that lightly because they’re going to be physical and fast. They’ll look to play on the counter,” Canadian coach Daniel Worthington told Sportsnet.

“Honduras, they’re the hosts of the tournament and they’re trying to leave a legacy for women’s football in that country. There’s some great energy there. It’s the second CONCACAF tournament they’ve had in the year with the U-17 men and now the U-20 women.

“I would expect a lot of fans at the Honduras game and a lot of momentum behind them. That’ll be a great experience for our girls. These are the kinds of games you want to play in and you want to coach in. You cherish them.”

How has Canada fared at the U-20 Championships?
Canada won this CONCACAF tournament in 2004 and 2008, and has participated in six of seven FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups.

Canada’s best showing was at the inaugural World Cup in 2002 staged in Edmonton when it won the silver medal after losing to the United States in the final.

The Reds finished sixth at last year’s World Cup held in Canada.

Why is the U-20 World Cup so important?
Like a lot of youth tournaments, the U-20 World Cup is an important developmental competition for Canadian talent

Future senior women’s team stars such as Christine Sinclair and Kara Lang burst on the scene at the inaugural event in Canada in 2002 when it was an under-19 competition. At last year’s World Cup staged in Canada, Kadeisha Buchanan and Jessie Fleming made their debuts in a major competition and have since graduated to the senior team.

Who’s playing for Canada?
Worthington announced his 20-player roster last week:

Goalkeepers: Rylee Foster (Woodbridge SC), Lysianne Proulx (AS Varennes)
Defenders: Sura Yekka (University of Michigan), Sarah Feola (CS Lakeshore), Emma Regan (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls), Victoria Pickett (University of Wisconsin at Madison), Marike Saint-Pierre-Mousset (CS Delta Laval), Bianca St-Georges (West Virginia University), Mika Richards (Harding University)
Midfielders: Ashley Moreira (University of Pittsburgh), Martina Loncar (Colgate University), Sarah Stratigakis (Unionville Milliken SC), Sarah Kinzner (University of Colorado at Boulder), Vital Kats (Scarborough GS United), Alexis Martel-Lamothe (Comètes de Laval)
Forwards: Anyssa Ibrahim (AS Varrennes), Taylor Pryce (University of Pittsburgh), Camilla Shymka (Calgary South West United), Shana Flynn (Unionville-Milliken SC), Alex Lamontagne-Maycock (Syracuse University)

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