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Young Canadians return to San Pedro Sula and the scene of the soccer crime

02/17/2015 01:58 EST | Updated 04/19/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Canada is returning to the scene of the soccer crime — the decrepit Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Only this time it's the Canadian under-17 team, hoping to help exorcise the demons of an embarrassing 8-1 loss in October 2012 that saw the Canadian senior side tumble out of World Cup qualifying. The lopsided defeat cost coach Stephen Hart his job and triggered a wholesale rebuild under current national team boss Benito Floro.

But the immediate goal of coach Sean Fleming's squad is to leave the CONCACAF Men's Under-17 Championship next month with a berth in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Chile in October.

The 12-team CONCACAF competition which runs Feb. 27 to March 15, will crown the under-17 champion in North and Central America and the Caribbean and send four teams from the region to Chile.

Canada has been drawn in Group B of the CONCACAF tournament with Costa Rica, Haiti, Mexico, Panama and St. Lucia.

"We know with the qualifying procedure how difficult it will be with games every third day with the heat," Fleming said Tuesday in a statement releasing his 20-man roster. "And we know the quality of the opponents. It's a very tough group compared to the other group, in my opinion, and it's going to be five very good quality games."

Group A consists of Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the U.S.

The top team from each group after round-robin play advances to the World Cup while the second- and third-placed teams in each group will play off for the two remaining spots.

The Canadian roster depends heavily on academy talent from Toronto FC (nine players) and the Vancouver Whitecaps (six).

Under Fleming, Canada has qualified for the last two world championships at this age group. The young Canadians failed to advance out of the first round on both occasions, compiling a combined 0-2-4 record.

Canada, which also qualified for back-to-back FIFA U-17 World Championships in 1993 and 1995, is hoping to reach the U-17 World Cup for the third time in a row for the first time in its history.

Canada opens Feb. 28 against Cuba before facing Costa Rica on March 3, Mexico on March 6, St. Lucia on March 9 and Panama on March 12.

The Canadians wrapped up a pre-tournament Central America tour in January, defeating El Salvador and dropping two games to Guatemala.

Mexico is the defending CONCACAF under-17 champion, having won the regional championship in Panama in 2013.

The Mexicans were runners-up to champion Nigeria at the 2013 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and won the 2011 tournament on Mexican soil.

The Canadian under-20 team failed to advance out of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in Jamaica last month. Canada has not reached the under-20 world championship since it hosted the event in 2007.

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Canada Roster

Goalkeepers: Brogan Engbers, Toronto FC; Luciano Trasolini, Vancouver Whitecaps.

Defenders: Matthew Baldisimo, Vancouver Whitecaps; Gabriel Boakye, Toronto FC; Dante Campbell, Toronto FC; Kadin Chung, Vancouver Whitecaps; Andrew Dias, Toronto FC; Kosovar Sadiki, Stoke City (England).

Midfielders: Tristan Borges, Toronto FC; Aidan Daniels, Toronto FC; Rich Ennin, Toronto FC; Thomas Mickoski, North Toronto Nitros; Harrison Paton, Fulham FC (England); Munir Saleh, Vancouver Whitecaps; Jean-Yves Tabla (unattached).

Forwards: Terran Campbell, Vancouver Whitecaps; Duwayne Ewart (unattached); Malik Johnson, Toronto FC; Cyrus Rollocks, Toronto FC; Daniel Sagno, Vancouver Whitecaps.

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