Toronto FC's Jordan Hamilton has been over in Italy with Canada's Under 17 team for the last couple of weeks and even though the results have not all gone their way Canada can be proud of how they have done in the Torneo delle Nazioni.
The Canadian team picked up a great result in their pre-tournament match against Mexico. Canada was able to claim a 1-1 draw in the match thanks to a strike from Hamilton late in the first half. It was a game that served as a very good gauge of where Canada stands going into next years CONCACAF competition. Head coach Sean Fleming will have been proud of the young players for bouncing back despite going down early and making a real game of it.
Canada then opened the tournament against Israel but having gone down to 10 men around the 50 minute mark, of a 60 minute match, Canada conceded a late winner to Weismann Show. The 1-0 final score will have been painful for the Canadian team who fought hard despite Aron Mkungilwa being sent off for picking up his second yellow card of the match. Again, Fleming seemed proud of his team for fighting after finding themselves at a disadvantage.
Next up for Canada was a match against one of UEFA's powerhouses. Italy proved to be too much for Canada to handle as they were able to score once in each half to claim a 2-0 win. Canada can take some solace that they were able to compete with a fairly strong Italian team but I am sure they would have been hoping for more.
With two defeats in two days Canada was looking to bounce back against Slovenia to end the tournament on a high note. Canada again traveled across the border to play against Slovenia in their own back yard which only made the task of knocking off another strong UEFA side that much more difficult. Canada was more than up to the task though as they got goals from Marco Bustos (21st) and Phillip Makinde (30+) in the first half. That was all the damage the team would need as they held on for a 2-0 win.
On the whole, Canada would have certainly been hoping to do better in the tournament. They certainly would have liked to finish closer to the top of the group standings but the good news is that they will now have a lot to build on going forward. For the majority of the team called up this was their first time playing at this level and even though they were called a U17 team the players involved were all U16 so that the same group can be used next April when Panama hosts the CONCACAF U17 Championships.
The possitives are that Canada held their own against Mexico, Israel, Italy, and Slovenia which are all teams that that will have their eyes on a place in the next U17 World Cup set for 2013 in the United Arab Emeriates. Mexico will be looking to defend their title which they picked up last year when they hosted the event.