February 24th, 2024

Canada names roster for CONCACAF U-20 men’s qualifiers in Trinidad and Tobago

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on February 12, 2024.

Canada under-20 coach Andrew Olivieri has included 15-year-old defender Sergei Kozlovskiy in his 21-man squad for the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship Qualifiers later this month in Trinidad and Tobago.

Kozlovskiy, who turns 16 in June, is in the CF Montreal system, having joined the organization in 2022 from CS Longueuil. He represented Canada at the CONCACAF U-15 Boys Championship last August in the Dominican Republic and took part in a Canadian under-17 camp in September in Indonesia under Andrew Olivieri, Canada Soccer’s men’s national youth Excel director and under-20 coach.

CONCACAF U-20 qualifying play runs Feb. 23 to March 2, across five venues in Central America and the Caribbean. Twenty-seven teams from the region have been split into three groups of five and three groups of four with the group winners advancing to the main CONCACAF tournament this summer.

Canada has been drawn in Group D with Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. The group will play its games at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.

The Canadian roster also includes centre back Lazar Stefanovic, who has already appeared for the Toronto FC first team, and midfielder Alessandro Biello, son of interim Canadian national team coach Mauro Biello.

Olivieri also called up Colorado Rapids rookie forward Kimani Stewart-Baynes, the fourth overall pick in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft. The 19-year-old from Toronto was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year after recording three goals and seven assists in his only season at the University of Maryland.

“With this new format for the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, we’ll have to earn our way into the final qualifying round with no margin for error,” Olivieri said in a statement. “While the environment and opponents will be a big test, especially Trinidad and Tobago in Port-of Spain, we see it as a real blessing to be able to bring a new generation of players together for the first time and do it in such meaningful matches.”

The Canada roster includes players with clubs in Croatia, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico and the Netherlands as well as Canada and the U.S.

The Canadian Premier League is represented by Forge FC’s Kevaughn Tavernier and Vancouver FC’s James Cameron.

Stefanovic is one of four players in the Toronto FC organization. There are three players from the CF Montreal system and one from the Vancouver Whitecaps reserve team.

Tavio Ciccarelli is a forward with Sheffield United’s under-18 team in England.

The Canadians, who arrive in Trinidad on Friday, open Feb. 23 against Dominica before facing St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Feb. 25 and Trinidad and Tobago on Feb. 27.

The U.S., Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic have received byes into the CONCACAF main tournament where the 12 teams will be divided into three groups of four. After round-robin play, the two top teams from each group and the two best third-place teams will advance to the knockout stage.

The four semifinalists qualify for the 2025 FIFA Men’s U-20 World Cup in Chile.

Canada has taken part in 24 of the 28 CONCACAF U-20 Championships to date, winning the tournament in 1986 and 1996. In 2022 in Honduras, the Canadians made it to the round of 16 where they lost to Guatemala in a penalty shootout.

But Canada has not taken part in the FIFA U-20 World Cup since 2007 when it hosted the event. Canada failed to advance to the knockout stage then after failing toscore or win in its three group games.

The last time Canada qualified for the FIFA U-20 tournament was 2005.

Canada Roster

Goalkeeper: Nathaniel Abraham, Toronto FC II (MLS Next Pro); Ivan Pavela, NK Lokomotiva Zagreb (Croatia); Gregoire Swiderski, Girondins Bordeaux (France).

Defenders: James Cameron, Vancouver FC (CPL); Christian Greco-Taylor, unattached; Sergei Kozlovskiy, CF Montreal academy; Adam Pearlman, Toronto FC II (MLS Next Pro); Theo Rigopoulos, Toronto FC academy; Ethan Schilte-Brown, Kilmarnock (Scotland); Lazar Stefanovic, Toronto FC II (MLS Next Pro).

Midfielders: Jeevan Badwal, Whitecaps FC2 (MLS Next Pro); Alessandro Biello, CF Montreal academy; Tiago Codinha, Twente Enschede (Netherlands); Jesse Costa, VFL Wolfsburg (Germany); Myles Morgan, unattached; Matteo Schiavoni, CF Montreal academy.

Forwards: Oumar Diallo, Inter Milan (Italy); Kimani Stewart-Baynes, Colorado Rapids (MLS); Kevaughn Tavernier, Forge FC (CPL); Tavio Ciccarelli, Sheffield United (England); Santiago Lopez, Pumas UNAM (Mexico).

Head Coach: Andrew Olivieri.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on X platform, formerly known as Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2024

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