The Canadians are currently reaping the rewards of a progressive and forward-thinking youth policy initiated by their football association. Their tremendous run to the quarter-finals at UAE 2003 combined with the favourable position they will occupy as hosts in 2007, has many fans dreaming of medals rather than just avoiding a first-round exit on their eighth outing among the world's best youth.
This season's crop look likely to be typically tough to breakdown. Mentally strong, possessing players with the experience of living and playing abroad and tactically well drilled by long-time boss Dale Mitchell, Canada could well surprise many of the more traditional powers with the aid of familiar fields and what are bound to be energetic and boisterous crowds. With a fine cocktail of domestic and European-based players, Canada will most likely be relying on the sturdy play of Newcastle fullback David Edgar and Ipswich Town's Jaime Peters - both veterans of Netherlands 2005.
Having failed to match the wonder-run of 2003 with a disappointing first-round exit at Netherlands 2005, the hosts will be keen to re-stamp their authority once the ball gets rolling for the 16th instalment of the world youth showpiece.
Having qualified automatically as hosts, the young Canadians embarked upon an ambitious schedule of friendly matches and full-residency training camps to ensure match fitness and team chemistry to be at optimum levels once hostilities spark off in the Great White North. Coach Dale Mitchell - who will hold the Canuck reins for the third U-20 finals running - has seen his side draw with southern rivals the USA and earn a famous 3-1 result against Brazil before nearly 15,000 fans in Edmonton over the course of a gruelling 2006.
The eloquent Dale Mitchell will once again be in charge as Canada come up against the best in youth football. Canada and Mitchell, who has been at the helm of the youth team since February 2002, won many friends in the United Arab Emirates in 2003, coming ever so close to shocking Spain and grabbing a spot in the final four. He and his new charges will be keen to put the rest the disappointments of Netherlands 2005, where the only point they picked up came from a draw with Syria. Previously A-League Coach of the Year with hometown side the Vancouver Whitecaps, he has worked his way up the youth football ladder - including a stint as assistant coach of the U-17 side. A former international, Mitchell hit a record 19 goals in 55 matches and was part of the Canada side that reached the 1986 FIFA World Cup Mexico TM.
At a towering 6 foot 4 inches, David Edgar is always going to stand out on a football pitch. Throw into the mix a deft touch on the ball, a nose for the occasional crunching tackle and an eye for goal, and the 19-year-old Ontario native begins to look like the complete package. Coming up through the academy system at Newcastle - where his father Eddie also played - the 2006/7 campaign marked a turning point for young David. After making his first-team debut for the Magpies early on against Bolton, he went on to score a stunning long-range goal against Manchester United on 1 January to help earn his side a share of the spoils in a 2-2 draw. Having lined up for Canada two years ago at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in the Netherlands and at UAE 2003, Edgar - who is now also earning calls up for the senior Canuck side - will have the experience necessary to lead the North Americans into battle on home soil.
|3||Kent O CONNOR|
|19||Michael D AGOSTINO|