Defender Gianfranco Facchineri converted his spot kick to give Canada a 4-3 penalty shootout win over Costa Rica on Sunday to reach the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Men’s Under-17 Championship and qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
The four semi-finalists at the CONCACAF tournament advance to the world championship later this year in Brazil.
Canada failed to qualify for the 2017 and 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cups. It has participated in six of the 17 editions of the tournament, but only twice since 1995 (in 2011 and 2013). It played host in 1987.
Facchineri, a centre back from Windsor, Ont., who is with the Vancouver Whitecaps academy, delivered the decisive kick after the game ended in a 1-1 tie after 120 minutes of play.
Costa Rica goalkeeper George Barrett dove one way and Facchineri sent the ball the other way.
The 17-year-old Canadian pumped his fists and jumped in the air in delight before being swallowed up by a sea of teammates.
Kamron Habibullah, Matt Catavolo and Julian Altobelli also scored for Canada in the shootout. Barrett saved Jacen Russell-Rowe’s attempt.
Keymark Davis, Geancarlo Castro and Maikel Gonzalez converted their spot kicks after Canadian ‘keeper Marc Kouadio stopped Jordy Hernandez’s attempt. Costa Rica’s Jordy Evans hit the crossbar.
Canada came close during extra time with Altobelli striking the crossbar in the 100th minute of a game that kicked off at 10 a.m. local time.
Jayden Nelson put Canada ahead 1-0 from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time after Jeremie Omeonga was taken down by Barrett. It was the fifth goal of the tournament for the Toronto FC academy member.
Costa Rica tied it up in the 49 minute, also via penalty, with Castro’s spot kick eluding a diving Kouadio.
Canada reached the knockout portion of the tournament by finishing second to the United States in Group F with a 2-1-0 record. The Canadians then blanked Curacao 4-0 to reach the quarter-finals.
Costa Rica won Group H with a 2-0-1 record before edging Nicaragua 2-1 in the round of 16.
Canada is now 4-5-3 against Costa Rica in CONCACAF under-17 championship play.