Soccer

Butler: Canada shows its pride, U20-style

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Noel Butler, TSN.ca
8/22/2014 4:01:41 PM
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As we approach Sunday's FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup Final at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, it's time to shake off that inertia Canadians possess for slapping our own backs.

I think Americans refer to it as “grandstanding”.

Already more than a quarter of a million spectators from Moncton to Edmonton have taken in the tournament first hand. There they have witnessed matches upholding the true spirit of the beautiful game: Free-flowing football with an absence of simulation and malicious intentions. We've seen more goals and high scoring matches than anyone could have dared to imagine.

Surely even Kim Jong-un must have got to his feet at the final whistle to salute Nigeria's six-star performance in Moncton Wednesday.

Proceedings kicked off with a star-studded banquet in Montreal Aug. 3 where guests included the FIFA President. Whilst here, for good measure, Sepp Blatter threw his support behind the Canadian Soccer Association's government-endorsed bid to host the 2026 World Cup Finals. You know, the one where Cristiano Ronaldo announces his Real Madrid exit in favour of Montreal?

CSA President and chair of the National Organizing Committee Victor Montagliani, and everyone he is tasked to oversee, are now rightfully reaping the rewards of their labour seeds sown across the country since preparations for Canada 2014 began back in earnest, in March, 2011. That came right after Canada was awarded the rights to host Canada 2015 by FIFA.

"The soccer has been fantastic and we expect the best match to be played on Sunday with Germany facing Nigeria in the FIFA U20 Women's World Cup Canada 2014,” Montagliani told TSN.ca by email yesterday.

The tournament itself, one could say, is the official launch of the FIFA Women's World Cup Finals in Canada 2015. Or as Montagliani stated; "The competition is a great launching pad for next year's FIFA Women's World Cup: for FIFA, the National Organising Committee, the stadia and training grounds, and the host cities.”

The outstanding outpouring of country-wide support for our U-20's at Canada 2014 - where we eventually became unstuck by the Germans [who doesn't?] in the quarter-final - has not been lost on the Chairman.

"The way our country got behind the Canadian team was fantastic. The best crowds were always those when Canada played, including the 22,421 in Edmonton for the quarter-final phase,” Montagliani added.

"Playing four international matches in a global competition like this provides our young players with important experience and growth opportunities. This particular U-20 group may graduate five or more players to the women's national team, so for them to get that experience before next year's FIFA Women's World Cup is paramount for our national program."

Those five or more U-20 players Montagliani references who will graduate to next summer's Women's World Cup Finals stand in direct contrast to what tends to occur with the Men's World Cup Finals.

Coincidentally if we look at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Finals Canada hosted in 2007, hardly any players went on three years late to appear at South Africa 2010. The male incubation period leaps from a single year to seven.

On average at Brazil 2014 only two or three players from each nation who competed here in 2007, and who qualified for this summer's World Cup Finals would have made it onto the squads.

Chile who made it to the2007 semi-finals were the exception. Six players from 2007 were at Brazil 2014. Such is the task at hand for our ladies next summer, the considered opinion is that only a pair of German players who will appear in Sunday's Final will return for Canada 2015.

That's for matters on the pitch. Montreal, where Sunday's final will be staged, are well aware of the added values for Canada 2015 which are directly associated for playing host to the U-20's.

"The FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup has provided us with the building blocks towards a bigger and better FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015,” Francis Millien, who chairs the Local Organizing Committee, told TSN.ca via email this afternoon.

"In using Olympic Stadium for both competitions in 2014 and 2015, we can iron out our logistical pathway and reconfirm that logistics, transport and stadia operations meet the requirements for the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015,” Millien added.

Having already hosted eight matches, Olympic Stadium plays host to Sunday evening's final between Germany and Nigeria. Before the show piece event comes an intriguing encounter in the bronze medal playoff match between France and North Korea.

Sure to be a sizeable and raucous crowd at Olympic Stadium. No word yet though on the weekend travel plans for Kim Jong-un.

Noel Butler can be reached via:

Noel.Butler@BellMedia.ca

@TheSoccerNoel on Twitter

U20 Women's World Cup (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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