Final eight for Canada’s U-17 squad with major test ahead

Two wins and a draw for Canada’s U-17 girls in group play means they’re off to the quarterfinals at the Women’s World Cup. Their spot was secured with a 1-0 win over host nation Azerbaijan on Saturday.

Regardless of those three crucial points, Canada likely isn’t totally pleased with the result, even though the stat sheet had them at 62% possession. In the first, the red and white had nine shots on goal, but none of them were on target. It was actually Canada’s Kailen Sheridan who made the best save of the opening half, when she was able to get her fingertips on Melis Sarialtin’s spinning shot from just outside the box in the 45th minute.

Azerbaijan’s Aytaj Sharifova was simply solid in goal on the other side of the pitch. Her positioning was solid and wasn’t afraid to be agressive. After the game, Canadian bench boss Bryan Rosenfeld quickly credited her for an outstanding performance in front of her home fans.

Canada’s lone goal came courtesy of Valerie Sanderson early in the second on a bit of a broken play when scooped the loose rebound past Sharifova.

The lack of finish will be the focus for Rosenfeld’s group going into October 4th’s quarterfinal meeting with Korea DPR. The North Koreans have only allowed two goals all tournament, while scoring 13. That’s 10 more than Canada. They will also have to pay attention to forward Un Sim Ri. She’s scored five times and is currently in second place for the golden boot.

Nothing is impossible in soccer. With the right tactics and frame of mind, any team can win on any given night. The Canadians will have to believe in themselves and use their soccer smarts to get by the North Koreans. It will come down to the basics: dependable two-way play, strong clears, crisp passes and making the most of the open space.

Opening kickoff between Canada and Korea DPR is 6 am (MT) on October 4th in Baku.

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