Host Brazil dominated Canada in a 4-1 win Saturday, opening the FIFA U-17 World Cup in style.
Canada, playing in its seventh U-17 World Cup, is still looking for its first win with 15 losses and four draws. Brazil, a three-time champion, improved its record to 54-18-11 in its 17th trip to the 24-team competition that runs through Nov. 17.
“Brazil is a great soccer nation and they showed it today,” Canadian coach Andrew Olivieri said. “We grew throughout the match and we will be better because of it when we face Angola and New Zealand throughout the group phase.”
Canada faces Angola on Tuesday and New Zealand on Nov. 1.
Peglow scored twice and Veron added a single for Brazil, which led 2-0 at the half at a wet Estadio Bezerrao where the announced attendance was 11,468. Brazil, showing off an arsenal of backheels, flicks and other trickery, also got a Kobe Franklin own goal.
Substitute Jacen Russell-Rowe, a 17-year-old forward with the Toronto FC academy, scored in the 86th minute when Canada was first to track down a Brazilian clearance and Russell-Rowe’s shot deflected in off a Brazilian defender.
While Brazilian goalkeeper Matheus Donelli had little to do on the day, Canadian ‘keeper Marc Kouadio was peppered by shots and did his bit to keep the score down.
Brazil outshot Canada 33-6 (15-4 on target) and had 59 per cent of possession. The host side had 11 corners to Canada’s two.
While the Brazilians controlled the game for long stretches, the Canadians kept at it and enjoyed some good patches. But they were few and far between.
Canada’s first shot on target came in the 70th minute when, after a run by Russell-Rowe, Kamron Habibullah fed Deandre Kerr in front of goal after some slack Brazilian defending. But Donelli got a hand to the ball.
Donelli stopped Habibullah again in the 82nd minute.
Centre back Gianfranco Facchineri captained Canada, one of three members of the Vancouver Whitecaps organization in the starting 11. There were also five members of the Toronto FC academy, two from the Montreal Impact academy with Kouadio from Florida’s Montverde Academy.
The young squad may well play at another world championship down the line, with most being 23 or 24 when Canada co-hosts the 2026 World Cup.
Canada found itself on the defensive early.
Kouadio made a diving one-handed save on a Daniel Cabral shot in the sixth minute that skipped off the wet turf in front of the ‘keeper. The rebound went to Talles Magno who flicked it over Kouadio but fullback Franklin go a boot to it to end the threat.
There was more danger in the ninth minute when Veron raked the ball through the Canadian penalty box. Brazil deservedly went ahead in the 17th minute when an unmarked Peglow swept in a low Veron cross.
The young Canadians began to settle and string some passes together to maintain possession. But Brazil soon regained control.
Kouadio was called upon again in the 38th minute, parrying back-to-back shots by Magno and Veron. Magno plays for the Vasco da Gama first team.
Brazil began to turn the screws as the first half wound down, forcing the Canadians to defend deep in their own end. And the home side went ahead 2-0 in stoppage time when Kaio Jorge’s cross bounced in off Franklin as Peglow steamed towards goal.
Kouadio made a spectacular reflex save off a header off a corner in the half’s dying seconds.
The Brazilians had 61 per cent of the possession in the first half, outshooting Canada 19-1 (8-0 in shots on target). Brazil had six corners to Canada’s one.
Peglow, whose Brazilian club team is Inter, made it 3-0 in the first minute of the second half, taking advantage of a poor clearing attempt by Franklin to hammer a shot home.
Veron made it 4-0 in the 56th minute, beating two defenders to the ball after an errant overhead bicycle kick attempt by a Brazilian teammate
Canada, which failed to qualify for the 2015 and 2017 editions of the tournament, has never advanced out of group play. On the plus side, its four draws have come in the last two appearances.
In 2013 in the United Arab Emirates, the Canadians drew Austria and Iran and lost to Argentina, who went on to finish fourth. In 2011 in Mexico, they lost to eventual runner-up Uruguay before tying England and Rwanda.
Canada hosted the tournament in 1987. It also took part in 1989, 1993 and 1995.
The Canadians qualified for Brazil by beating Costa Rica 4-3 on penalty kicks after their quarter-final ended in a 1-1 tie after regulation time at the CONCACAF U17 Championship in Bradenton, Fla., in May. Canada then lost 4-0 to the U.S. in the semifinals.
Twenty of the 21 Canada players in Brazil are with Canadian MLS club academies: eight from Toronto and six each from Montreal and Vancouver.
Brazil beat Canada 2-0 in their only other meeting at the tournament, in 1995.