After two wins, Canada ready for Haiti challenge
Canada's Teni Akindoju (pictured) scored three goals against host Grenada in a CONCACAF Under-17 Women's Championship match on March 5, 2016, in St. George's. (Photo: Mexsport)
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ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada – After earning maximum points from the opening two matches at the 2016 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship, Canada has quickly shifted attention to Haiti (2W-0D0L, 6 points), its last group-stage opponent.

The sides met in the 2014 CONCACAF Girls’ Under-15 Championship final, a game that saw the Canadians prevail 4-1 on penalty kicks, after a 1-1 draw. Many of the same players from that encounter in the Cayman Islands will be on the Grenada Athletics Stadium pitch Monday to decide the Group A winner.

Both have already secured final-four places, but due to goal difference, Canada (+10) will have to beat Haiti (+14) to finish first.

In Saturday’s 7-0 win over host Grenada, Canada head coach Bev Priestman rested some regulars, an approach that could serve the team well against Haiti.

“We had a lot of fresh legs out there, making sure for the third game and beyond we’ve got minutes shared across the whole squad so we can be fresh in this heat,” said Priestman. “We’ll shift a gear and start focusing on this Haiti game to prepare us for what’s ahead.”

Despite creating numerous chances against Grenada – 41 shots in total – the Canadians once again struggled to find the back of the net as often as it would prefer. That stat concerned was somewhat concerning to Priestman.

“We have to be more clinical,” the 38-year-old stressed. “The players have to learn to trust the process, but overall job done, three points.”

In addition to her team displaying a more unforgiving attitude in front of the net, Priestman realizes that Haiti presents a more difficult challenge, especially for the defense. The Caribbean runner-up has scored 16 goals in two games, powered by Nerilia Mondesir’s tournament-leading five.

“Our team knows that it has to be disciplined,” remarked Priestman. “In transition, this team (Haiti) are dangerous, quick. They’re strong. Height for height, they are a lot bigger than what we are."

Canada, though, will also rely on its own offensive prowess. Six different players have already registered at least one CU17W goal.

“In an attacking way, we can cause them some real problems,” Priestman finished. “We’ve just got to be disciplined as we play more tough opponents. That’s our focus now.”