Two former champions await Canada at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in India with 2012 winner France first up Wednesday.
The young Canadians then take on 2014 champion Japan on Saturday, also in Goa, before wrapping up Group D play Oct. 18 against debutante Tanzania in Navi Mumbai.
“We’ve got an exciting group,” said Canada coach Emma Humphries. “It’s a really good challenge for the girls.
“We have tried in the buildup to face many different types of opponents, so we feel we’re ready. We obviously haven’t played France or Japan this cycle with the group but we’re tried our best to replicate (them) with different kind of opponents. The girls responded really well to different challenges that have been ahead of them.
“Absolutely there’s some top talent that will be in the teams that we’re playing against but when you’re Canada you also know that you have a lot of weapons in your team as well. I’m just excited to see what our girls can bring to the tournament.”
The 16-country competition, which kicks off Tuesday with four matches in Group A and B play, runs through Oct. 30.
Spain is the defending champion, having won in 2018 when Canada placed fourth. The 2020 tournament was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Defender Zoe Markesini captains Canada, which qualified by virtue of a 3-0 victory over Puerto Rico in the third-place game at the CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship in May in the Dominican Republic.
Humphries calls the 17-year-old from Markham, Ont., a strong leader who “sets really good examples for the team.”
Forward Rosa Maalouf, who scored 12 of Canada’s 26 goals in qualifying, misses the tournament due to injury. But Amanda Allen and Renee Watson, who scored four goals apiece at the CONCACAF tournament, are both in the Canadian squad.
“I think we have a lot of excitement in our front line for people,” said Humphries, who is married to Canada women’s coach Bev Priestman. “It’s about us executing in a World Cup under pressure which is the hardest part of it.”
Humphries, who has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s in teaching, doubles as the Vancouver Whitecaps director of women’s soccer development.
Humphries, who spent two years as assistant first team coach with Liverpool of the FA Women’s Super League in England, served as the Whitecaps girls director and head coach from 2014 to 2018. She also worked in her native New Zealand as the women’s national development manager.
Collegiately, Humphries played at Cal State Fullerton and later Coastal Carolina. She represented New Zealand at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and the 2007 Women’s World Cup.
Her Canadian team arrived early in India for a 10-day lead-in to the tournament to get acclimatized to the heat.
The women took part in the recent Women’s Revelations Cup, which ran Aug. 31 to Sept. 6 in Leon where they lost 1-0 to Colombia on a 93rd-minute goal and 4-1 to host Mexico before beating Chile 3-2 to finish fourth behind Chile on goal difference. Colombia, bolstered by members of its under-20 squad, went 2-0-1 in winning the event which featured four countries all headed to the world showcase in India.
Canada has qualified for all seven editions of the U-17 Women’s World Cup, highlighted by the fourth-place finish in 2018 in Uruguay where it downed Germany 1-0 in the quarterfinals before falling 1-0 to Mexico in the semifinal. Canada then lost 2-1 to New Zealand in the third-place game.
Forward Jordyn Huitema captained that 2018 Canadian team with Rhian Wilkinson, now in charge of the NWSL Portland Thorns, as coach.
Tanzania is the first nation from CECAFA (Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations) to qualify for a FIFA women’s tournament.
The Serengeti Girls defeated Cameroon (5-1 on aggregate), Burundi (5-2) and Botswana (11-0) in qualifying. Clara Luvanga scored 10 of Tanzania’s goals to lead the qualifying tournament.
France qualified by defeating the Netherlands 2-0 in the third-place playoff in May at the UEFA Women’s U-17 Championship in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Germany won the European title, downing Spain in a penalty shootout.
The French are making their third appearance at the FIFA championship and first since their 2012 championship run.
Japan, along with China, was nominated by the Asian Football Confederation based on results of the 2019 AFC U-16 Women’s Championship once qualifying was cancelled due to the pandemic. Japan is making its seventh appearance at the tournament.
Canada failed to get out of the group stage at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in August in Costa Rica, losing to South Korea, France and Nigeria.
Canada Under-17 Roster
Goalkeepers: Faith Fenwick, NDC-CDN Ontario; Noelle Henning, NDC-CDN Ontario; Coralie Lallier, NDC-CDN Quebec.
Defenders: Mya Archibald, Nova Scotia REX; Clare Logan, Vancouver Whitecaps/NDC-CDN British Columbia; Iba Oching, Whitecaps Elite REX; Zoe Markesini (capt.), NDC-CDN Ontario; Janet Okeke, NDC-CDN Quebec; Ella Ottey, NDC-CDN Ontario; Renee Watson, NDC-CDN Ontario.
Midfielders: Anna Hauer, Vancouver Whitecaps; Ashley Roberts, Vancouver Whitecaps/NDC-CDN British Columbia; Felicia Roy, NDC-CDN Quebec; Isabel Monck, Vancouver Whitecaps; Jeneva Hernandez Gray, Vancouver Whitecaps/NDC-CDN British Columbia; Emily Wong, Vancouver Whitecaps, NDC-CDN British Columbia.
Forwards: Amanda Allen, NDC-CDN Ontario; Annabelle Chukwu, NDC-CDN Ontario; Jaime Perrault, Vancouver Whitecaps/NDC-CDN British Columbia; Kayla Briggs, NDC-CDN Ontario; Jade Bordeleau, NDC-CDN Quebec