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Canada defeated by Uzbekistan at FIFA U-17 World Cup

SURAKARTA, Indonesia –

Canada fell to 0-2-0 at the FIFA U-17 World Cup on Monday, blanked 3-0 by Uzbekistan.

The young Canadians sank to the bottom of Group B after failing to win for the 23rd time (0-19-4) in eight trips to the tournament.

Canada has been outscored 65-10 at the youth showcase over the years.

Both teams were coming off comprehensive losses in their opening match Friday. The Canadians were outclassed 2-0 by Spain while Uzbekistan was beaten 3-0 by Mali.

Spain defeated 10-man Mali 1-0 earlier Monday to move atop Group B. Mali forward Mamadou Doumbia was sent off in the 40th minute.

Canada wraps up first-round play against Mali on Thursday in Surabaya, some 215 kilometres to the east on the Indonesian coast.

The top two teams in each of the six first-round groups plus the four best third-place finishers advance to the knockout round. While there is a possibility three teams could finish tied on three points in Group B, Monday’s lopsided loss left Canada with a minus-five goal differential, all but eliminating it from moving on after the group stage.

“There’s an outside change of getting to the next round but more than that it’s about pride, it’s about honour,” said Canada coach Andrew Olivieri. “It’s about really putting effort into the last match to leave here with an experience for the players that they can be proud of.”

Uzbekistan, which came in the game with a 5-4-1 tournament record, made the quarterfinals in 2011 when it lost to eventual runner-up Uruguay.

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Uzbekistan went ahead in the 22nd minute when Canada failed to clear a corner. Ollabergan Karimov’s dipping cross went through a tangle of bodies and bounced past goalkeeper Nathaniel Abraham.

It was credited as a Canadian own goal through midfielder Richard Chukwu.

Two minutes later, Amirbek Saidov scored after being put alone behind the Canadian defence with a through ball. The play was initially called offside but video review confirmed the goal.

Uzbekistan sat back in the second half, content to defend and look for counter-attack opportunities. Substitute Lucas Ozimec hit the side-netting from close range in the 66th minute in Canada’s first decent chance.

An error by Abraham led to a third goal in the 81st minute. The goalkeeper came out of his penalty box to get to a booming clearance by Uzbek ‘keeper Muhammadyusuf Sobirov only to misjudge the ball which bounced over him and into the path of Saidov, who knocked it into the empty net.

Canada had a slight 11-10 edge in shots (3-3 in shots on target) but had trouble penetrating the Uzbek defence. The Canadians also offered little in attack against Spain, outshot 27-2 (11-0 in shots on target).

Olivieri made just one change to his starting lineup with Tyler Londono replacing the suspended Alessandro Biello. The co-captain, son of interim Canada senior men’s coach Mauro Biello, was shown a straight red card for violent play against Spain.

Centre backs Lazar Stefanovic, who has already seen action with the Toronto FC first team, led the young Canadians out. Five other members of the TFC academy products were in the starting 11, as well one from one each from the Vancouver Whitecaps and CF Montreal academies.

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Abraham and the back four were all TFC academy players.

The CPL’s Forge FC and Vancouver FC each provided a starter. Forward Anton Klukowski, son of former Canadian international Mike Klukowski, plays club football in Poland.

It was a warm 28 degrees Celsius for the 7 p.m. ET local time kickoff at Manahan Stadium.

Uzbekistan came close in the seventh minute when captain Lazizbek Mirzaev’s free kick hit the Canadian goalpost after Chukwu took down Shodiyor Shodiboev just outside the penalty box.

Vancouver FC midfielder Taryck Tahid shot just wide in the 16th minute. Twenty minutes later, an Uzbek clearance off the goal-line was rendered moot when the offside flag went up for the Canadian attack.

Canada qualified in February by making the final four of the CONCACAF Under-17 Championship in Guatemala where it was beaten 2-0 by the eventual runner-up U.S. in the semifinals.

Uzbekistan qualified by reaching the semifinals of the AFC U-17 Asian Cup, losing 1-0 to eventual runner-up South Korea.

The 2021 edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup was called off due to the pandemic.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 13, 2023

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