Canadians down Trinidad 3-0 to qualify for CONCACAF U-20 Championship

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad And Tobago — Canada booked its ticket to the CONCACAF U-20 Championship with a 3-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday, completing a perfect 3-0-0 run in Group D qualifying play.

The young Canadians outscored their opposition 15-0 across their three games at Hasely Crawford Stadium.

Myles Morgan, Santiago Lopez and Kevaughn Tavernier scored for Canada, which was up 1-0 at the break and had chances to add to that lead throughout a chippy game that saw some full-blooded challenges from the host side.

"Job done, that's the first thought in my mind," said Canada coach Andrew Olivieri.

"Maybe we made it look a little bit easy (at the tournament) at moments but it wasn't easy," he added. "The boys really put in an effort. I'm really excited about some of the young boys coming through."

Morgan opened the scoring in the 10th minute, capping a long passing sequence that ended with Jeevan Badwal finding the former Toronto FC academy player behind the defence in front of the goal. The ball was so good Morgan knocked it in without breaking stride.

Morgan, currently on trial with a team that Olivieri declined to identify, scored a hat trick in Canada's opening 8-0 win over Dominica on Friday.

Lopez made it 2-0 in the 54th minute, roofing a powerful shot past Trinidad goalkeeper Ailan Panton, whose mother Wendy Fitzwilliam was Miss Universe in 1998.

Tavernier, a Forge FC forward who turned 18 on Saturday, added to the lead in the 79th minute, knocking home a Kimani Stewart-Baynes cross with Panton out of position.

CONCACAF U-20 qualifying runs through Saturday across five venues in Central America and the Caribbean. Twenty-seven teams have been split into three groups of five and three groups of four with only the six group winners advancing to the main CONCACAF championship July 19 to Aug. 4 in Irapuato and Celaya, Mexico.

Olivieri said the plan is to get the team together in advance of the CONCACAF competition. But that comes with a cost for cash-strapped Canada Soccer.

"It comes at the cost of preparing other age-groups but this is the one we've targeted," he said.

The U.S., Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic have received byes into the CONCACAF main tournament.

The four semifinalists qualify for the 2025 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Chile. Canada has not taken part in the FIFA U-20 soccer showcase since it hosted the event in 2007.

Canada went into Tuesday's game with a healthy edge in goal difference, meaning it would qualify with a win or a tie.

Guyana referee Shavin Greene showed four yellow cards to Trinidad players for some ugly challenges.

Lopez had a couple of good scoring chances for Canada in the first half, hitting the goalpost with a free kick and then chipping just wide after a Trinidad turnover. Lopez is with Pumas UNAM in Mexico.

Morgan exited in the 61st minute replaced by Tavio Ciccarelli, who had a hat trick of his own in Canada's 4-0 win over St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sunday. Ciccarelli is with Sheffield United's under-18 team in England.

Lopez came off in the 68th minute after receiving treatment on the field.

The Canadians outshot their opposition 63-4 (26-3 in shots on target) in their three outings. The host Soca Warriors edged St. Vincent 3-2 and blanked Dominica 5-0.

Canada won the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in 1986 and 1996 and reached the round of 16 in 2022.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2024

The Canadian Press