Canada Coach Sean Fleming Shifts Focus To U17 World Cup After CONCACAF Championship Loss

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    Sunday night’s silver medal finish represented the highest Canada has ever placed in the CONCACAF U17 Championship. The Canucks lasted until extra time of the final match without conceding a goal.

    That’s when the U.S. broke through, scoring three goals en route to a 3-0 final win and the gold medal.

    The loss didn’t dismay Canadian U17 head coach Sean Fleming, however.

    “I’m very proud of our team,” said Fleming after the match. “We have a great group of guys and they will work very hard towards the FIFA U17 World Cup.”

    By virtue of at least a semifinal placing, Canada qualifies for the 2011 U17 World Cup, along with the U.S., Panama, and Jamaica. Host Mexico automatically qualifies.

    The United States won its first CONCACAF U17 Championship, continuing its record of never missing a U17 World Cup, qualifying for all 14 editions.

    American fullback Nathan Smith scored the wonder-goal which finally broke the Canucks’ clean sheet record. The defensive lapses which followed, allowing the U.S. to ice the game, didn’t concern Fleming, as his weary side pushed forward in search of an equalizer.

    “We had some chances in the first half that if they would have gone in would have changed things,” Fleming pointed out. “It was a great strike for the first goal. The last two I’m not going to worry about.”

    Vancouver Whitecaps fullback Daniel Stanese agreed with his coach.

    “We gave it our all, and at the end of the day we got unlucky with the first goal,” Stanese said. “We tried to get everybody up and that’s how we got three in the back of our net. It’s unfortunate, but we did all we could, so I’m proud of the boys.”

    Fleming thinks the experience of the entire tournament, and even the pain of defeat, will help his side come June when the World Cup kicks off.

    “That’s what I hope – that we learn from this,” Fleming said. “We have to be a little sharper, a little bit more savvy in some things, and I think we will. They’re great kids who have a great attitude, and they’ll work very hard knowing this feeling right now.”

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    Canada Coach Sean Fleming Shifts Focus To U17 World Cup After CONCACAF Championship Loss