Although Canada have qualified for all but one of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup’s previous six editions, their recent record at the competition has been decidedly underwhelming. The Canucks have failed to make it past the group phase in any of their three most recent appearances, and in 2010 didn’t even make it to the finals at all. Encouragingly, though, their best showing to date in an U-20 Women’s World Cup came on home soil in 2002, when they went all the way to the final, losing 1-0 to USA after extra time in front of a near-48,000 crowd. Going one better will be their aim in 2014.
Without a qualifying competition to negotiate, having been guaranteed their place as tournament hosts, Canada have been preparing for the U-20 Women’s World Cup with a series of training camps and friendly matches. Perhaps the most significant, and morale-boosting, thus far came in July and August last year when they emerged unbeaten from a three-game tour of northern Europe. Wins over their Norway counterparts and professional side Ballerup-Skovlunde, and a 1-1 draw with Denmark, boded well for their prospects as they continue to build towards the global finals.
Hopes may be high for a strong Canadian showing in August’s U-20 showpiece, but coach Andrew Olivieri – a former international goalkeeper – insists that his sights are fixed on next year’s senior FIFA Women’s World Cup and beyond. He explained: “The main goal for our entire youth program is to develop top-level international players for our senior team. We know that we have players in this U-20 team and in this program who will go on to play for the women’s national team and our main focus remains on providing them the best possible experience to go on and be successful at the highest level.”