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This article was published 28/3/2016 (1703 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Having already lost 4-1 to England, Canada's under-20 soccer team looked to be behind the 8-ball when the English sent out an even stronger lineup complete with Manchester United's rising star striker Marcus Rashford for the second game in the series.
Canadian coach Rob Gale, meanwhile, fielded a young starting 11 that included a 15-year-old, 16-year-old and four 17-year-olds. And he told them to play with freedom against an English team whose club ties included Chelsea, Everton, Manchester City, Norwich City, Sunderland and Tottenham as well as the Red Devils.
Score a memorable win for Canada.
The underdog visitors, whose average age was 17.4 compared to England's at 19.5, prevailed 2-1 before 3,264 at Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium on Sunday.
"They went toe-to-toe and showed what talented players hopefully they will become in the future," a happy Gale said Monday of his young charges.
The visitors were expected to be little more than cannon fodder in the eyes of many English observers.
"The talk all before was of Marcus Rashford and everybody coming to see the talents of England roll Canada over. But it was to their detriment," said Gale. "We said you can't underestimate anybody in a football match. I used it as motivation for our players — to say we can be the ultimate party spoilers.
"And what an opportunity. I know there was over 30 professional teams and Premiership scouts in attendance."
The talk in the Canadian dressing room before the match was don't underestimate the opposition, but don't give them too much respect either.
Gale said after months talking up Canada's youth "I wanted to walk the walk and not just talk the talk." So with the support of CSA technical director Tony Fonseca and other coaches, he started 15-year old Alphonso Davies and 16-year-old Ballou Tabla, among other youngsters.
"Look what happened," Gale said.
"It gave them the opportunity to express themselves, which is what we were looking for," he added.
Canada went ahead on spectacular goals by Kadin Chung and Marco Bustos, both from the Vancouver Whitecaps organization, in the 13th and 68th minutes before Kasey Palmer, set up by Rashford, pulled one back for England.
"Two great strikes. And to be fair, not just those two performance but excellent performances all around ... A terrific collective effort," said Gale.
The Canadians had their own blue-ribbon ties. In addition to the MLS team products, the squad was captained by Chelsea's Fikayo Tomori with Manchester United under-21 player Josh Doughty on the bench.
Gale had older players like Jordan Hamilton, Marco Carducci and Bustos, who have had time with the senior national team, share their experiences during the camp.
"It was great for the younger guys," he said. "And we did a lot of work behind the scenes on just building those relationships and trying to help them learn lessons, to hopefully benefit them in their experiences in our different national youth squads going forward."
Gale will turn his attention back to under-20 talent as he gears up qualifying for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup with a May camp in Costa Rica
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