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Decision time for Canadian U-20 coach

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Decisions, decisions. Canadian national U-20 team coach Valerio Gazzola has to make some ahead of the kickoff of Friday’s Group C wrap-up game at the CONCACAF championships. Joel Campbell’s two-goal performance led Costa Rica to a 2-0 decision over Guadeloupe on Wednesday. The result eliminates Guadeloupe and ensures that Canada and the Ticos advance to the quarter-finals. All of the teams that reach the semis qualify for the U-20 World Cup. But Canada still faces a very difficult scenario. Finish second in the group, and the quarter-final will likely pit the boys in red against the Mexican U-20 side, which is favoured to win Group D. Win Group C, and chances are Canada avoids Mexico. Because Guadeloupe lost to Canada by just a goal, and Costa Rica beat it by three, a draw or a win gives Costa Rica the group. Canada must win to take first place. But, if Gazzola decides to go for it, he will risk injuries and cards. Russell Teibert, who was the team’s sparkplug in coming from behind against Guadeloupe, picked up a late card. If he plays against Costa Rica and gets cautioned, he’s out for the quarters. Ethan Gage, Canada’s reigning U-20 player of the year, is in the same boat. So, the question is this. Do you start the best lineup available in order to miss Mexico, or do you rest players? Of course, if Trinidad and Tobago was to upset Mexico in the final Group D game — and win that section, all bets would be off. But, considering the junior Soca Warriors drew Cuba on Wednesday, it would be the upset of upsets. With either Cuba or T&T likely finishing second in Group D, Gazzola has to think that it’s better to go for it against Costa Rica.

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