• Saturday Apr 13, 2013

    Canada first to qualify for U-17 WC

    LA CHORRERA, Panama - Canada rallied twice from single-goal deficits to defeat Jamaica 4-2 in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Under-17 Championship on Saturday and qualify for the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup later this year in the United Arab Emirates.

    The performance of Andrew Gordon at the Estadio Agustin "Muquita" Sanchez was pivotal for the Canadians. He leveled the score 1-1 in the 38th minute and put the Maple Leafs ahead to stay, 3-2, with 14 minutes remaining in the entertaining encounter.

    Khallil Stewart gave the young Reggae Boyz an early advantage in the 5th minute, collecting the ball at the top of the 18-yard box, dribbling towards the right and beating goalkeeper Marco Carducci to the far post.

    The Canadians, though, were undaunted and admirably adhered to the game plan. Their discipline was rewarded, when Gordon netted his first goal. The forward beat everyone to rebound off his own header off the crossbar and the 16-year-old bundled the ball over the line.

    A minute before the interval, Stewart completed his brace. The U.S.-based midfielder beat three Canadian defenders while dribbling from left to right across the 18-yard box. His right-footed attempt took a deflection and sailed over Carducci to put Jamaica back into the lead.

    Hanson Boakai equalized for Canada 15 minutes after the break, a goal that caused a shift in the game's momentum.

    Kevon Black sent a one-touch pass down the left to Jordan Hamilton. The Toronto FC youth product dribbled into the Jamaican penalty area and delivered a cross on the ground to Boakai, whose shot hit off the left post. The midfielder responded precisely to tap in the rebound for his second goal of the tournament.

    In the 75th minute, the Canadians went ahead for good. Jamaican goalkeeper Nicholas Nelson could not hold on to an initial Gordon header off a Marco Bustos cross. Gordon left-footed the rebound home from close range for his second tally of the game to make the score 3-2.

    Hamilton completed the score line 11 minutes from the final whistle, lofting a header from seven-yards out over Nelson.

    With the win, Canada qualified for its second straight U-17 World Cup and sixth overall, while Jamaica is eliminated from contention.

    In the semifinals on Wednesday, the Canadians will face the winner of Panama-Trinidad & Tobago.

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