Canada focuses on player growth at CU17W
Canada under-17 women's national team standout Shana Flynn (red jersey) scored one goal at the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Women's Championship. (Photo: Mexsport)

GEORGE’S, Grenada -- Canada will start its bid Thursday to remain as the only team in CONCACAF history to qualify for every FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, when it faces Guatemala in the 2016 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship opener at the Grenada Athletics Stadium. 

The Canadians earned berths in the four previous FIFA events, capturing the confederation title in 2010. 

Winning trophies and securing World Cup berths, however, are not the only things on their minds. There’s the matter of developing players as well. 

“We want to play as many games as possible,” said Canada head coach Bev Priestman. “If we go far in the tournament, then we’ve got to assess these players for more games, but also against tougher opponents. I think that is crucial for us.” 

After the Guatemalan encounter, Canada will complete Group A play with matches against host Grenada (March 5) and Haiti (March 7). 

“Our opponents will bring a different style of play that we are not used to here in Canada," Priestman remarked. "Hopefully, it will give our girls good experience from which they can learn to progress in our system." 

Canada’s roster contains six players that competed in the 2015 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship, including midfielder Sarah Stratigakis. The midfielder scored two goals (both v Honduras) and was named to Best XI team. Forward Shana Flynn (1 goal v Jamaica); midfielders Anyssa Ibrahim and Vital Kats (1 goal v Jamaica); defender Emma Regan and goalkeeper Lysianne Proulx round out the contingent. 

The roster also includes 2015 Canadian U-17 Player of the Year Kennedy Faulknor, who has already earned four caps with the senior national team. 

Canada is a perfect 4-0-0 in CU17W openers, outscoring the opposition by a combined score of 21-1.