Canadian U-17s will have to deal with heat, bad turf in key CONCACAF quarter-final By Steven Sandor Posted on April 12, 2013 0 0 428 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Sean Fleming Jamaica is a quick team that works hard and has no issue getting stuck in. But the Canadian U-17 team can’t just prepare for the opponent in their do-or-die CONCACAF U-17 Championship quarter-final match. Already having to wrestle with the heat and the turf in Panama, the Canadians found out the Jamaica match had been moved up. It’s now a late-afternoon/early evening match. And that means Canada and Jamaica could be playing in forecasted temperatures of 33 C — and that’s before the humidity is factored in. And the old artificial surface, which doesn’t see the ball roll or bounce consistently, amplifies the heat at field level. It reflects heat and shoots it right back at the players. Still, coach Sean Fleming said his team will not use the conditions as an excuse. They have come down here with one goal: To qualify for the semifinals, which, more importantly, earns Canada a berth at the U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates later in 2013. Fleming led the 2011 U-17s to the World Cup, so he understands what kind of rewards are there. “It was a great honour to take Canada’s to the U-17 World Cup in Mexico. And the way we performed, we gained a lot of respect.” But, more importantly, by qualifying for the World Cup, the country’s elite U-17 players will see eight to 10 more games. Not only will they play top competiton at the World Cup, but there are friendlies to be played before that. And each international match benefits the players as they hope to move up the ladder to one day represent the senior men’s team. And, of those players, maybe the two brightest are midfielder Hanson Boakai and keeper Marco Carducci. Boakai is set to become the NASL’s youngest player, having signed a full pro contract with FC Edmonton at the age of 16. And he cemented Canada’s first-place finish in Group B with a left-footed wonder strike against Costa Rica that allowed Canada to escape the match with a draw. “There was a lot attention paid to the strike against Costa Rica, but he did a lot of great things before that,” said Fleming. “I’m not surprised, having seen the boy, that he rose to the occasion. And I hope he can do that again tomorrow. He still has a lot of fine-tuning. But he has a good environment at FC Edmonton, and (FCE coach) Colin Miller is doing a lot with him.” Carducci, the Vancouver Whitecaps’ prospect, is the undisputed No. 1 keeper, former Canadian U-17 Player of the Year, and Fleming is bullish about what the teen can do with his career. “As it is with all young players, there’s no crystal ball to see what will happen. But, from what I see now, he could have a long career in the game.” But, Saturday, Carducci and Boakai will need to show they can take the heat — in more than a few ways.