Canada Soccer’s U-17 women's national team will face-off against Mexico in an historic FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup semifinal when the Concacaf rivals clash at 2 p.m. PT on Wednesday, November 28. Both teams will be making their semifinal debut in this competition and it will mark the first-ever encounter between the two Concacaf nations at a FIFA women’s youth tournament.
Canadian fans can watch the semifinal live on TSN 4 and TSN 5 in English and on RDS2 in French.
“We set a goal and that’s to win this tournament and that’s the path we are following,” said Jordyn Huitema, captain of the Canada Soccer U-17 women’s national team, as well as a member of the Whitecaps FC and BC Soccer REX program. “We’ve played Mexico before so we know what to expect and it’s going to be a difficult match. It’s always going to be a battle when you get to the top four in the world, but we are just going to push hard and see what we can do on Wednesday.”
Canada booked its ticket to the semifinal round after defeating Germany 1-0 in the quarterfinals, while Mexico earned its spot after overcoming Ghana 4-2 on penalties as the match finished 2-2 at the end of 90 minutes. On the other side of the table, Spain and New Zealand both earned spots in the Semi-final after winning on penalty kicks with Spain beating reigning champions Korea DPR 3-1 on penalties after the match finished 1-1, and New Zealand defeating 2014 champions Japan 4-3 on penalties after the match finished 1-1. Canada was the only team to win in regulation time during the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018 quarterfinals.
Canada knows its semifinal opponent well. The two teams met in the semifinal of the 2018 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship with Mexico defeating Canada 2-1 to qualify for Uruguay 2018 before falling in the Final to the United States 3-2. Canada went on to defeat Haiti in the Match for Third Place to earn their place in Uruguay 2018. The Concacaf U-17 Champions USA bowed out of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup after losing 4-0 to Germany in the group stage.
“We know Mexico well and we are not taking anything for granted headed into this historic match for both our nations,” said head coach Rhian Wilkinson, who will come to Vancouver after the tournament to lead the Whitecaps FC and BC Soccer REX program. “We have recent experience against Mexico, but our team has evolved since our last match and it’s a different Canadian team, with a different mind-set going into the semifinal.”
Mexico are a familiar face at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, having competed in four of the five editions held to date and only missed the inaugural staging at New Zealand 2008. Their previous best performances came at Costa Rica 2014 and Jordan 2016, when they made it to the quarterfinals.
Head coach Rhian Wilkinson and Mexico’s Monica Vergara are both former national team players, with an abundance of international experience to draw from. Wilkinson, a mainstay for Canada from the time of her debut in 2003 until her retirement in 2017, was a member of Canada’s most successful FIFA competition teams when Canada placed fourth at the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003 and is a two-time Olympic Bronze Medalist in 2012 and 2016.
Vergara represented Mexico at the 2004 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament. Most notably, as a 16-year-old, she was the youngest member of the team that went to the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 1999.
Canada Soccer’s ongoing investment in the Women’s EXCEL program has already graduated 18 players to the Women’s National Team from the youth ranks since 2013. Alongside the investment in player development, Canada Soccer’s Elite Player Elite Coach program launched in 2016 highlights the development of player-turned-coach Rhian Wilkinson, who has now led Canada to their first-ever Semi-final at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
“I’d like to thank Canada Soccer. They’ve really given me so many opportunities and I know they are creating coaching opportunities for a lot of women in Canada,” said Wilkinson after Canada’s historic quarterfinal win over Germany.
Wilkinson, who was nominated by Canada Soccer to participate in the new FIFA Coach Mentorship Program designed to support female coaches by enabling them to acquire new knowledge, skills and experience that they can harness in their careers, noted that herself, New Zealand’s Gemma Lewis and Mexico Coach Monica Vergara, three of four coaches in the Semi-final of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup are part of the program.
“It’s really wonderful to look across the bench and see women that are growing in the game,” added Wilkinson.
Having reached the semifinal, this will be Canada’s highest finish in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. Canada has placed in the top ten participating nations in each edition of the tournament, but, had previously reached a highest position of seventh in New Zealand 2008 and Azerbaijan 2012. Canada placed tenth at Trinidad and Tobago 2010, eighth at Costa Rica 2014, and ninth in Jordan 2016.
Canada marks the 10-year anniversary of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup as one of only six nations to have qualified for every edition since it was launched in 2008, alongside Germany, Ghana, Japan, New Zealand and Korea DPR.