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Canada's Deanne Rose, right, and Zimbabwe's Sheila Makoto fight for the ball during a an Olympic soccer match on Aug. 6, 2016.

Nelson Antoine/The Associated Press

Olympians Deanne Rose and Gabrielle Carle will lead Canada next month at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Papua New Guinea.

The Canadians are in a challenging group with Japan, Spain and Nigeria at the 16-team tournament, which runs Nov. 13 to Dec. 3.

The 17-year-old Rose scored twice during the 2016 Rio Games, becoming the youngest goal scorer in Olympic women's soccer history. At the U-17 World Cup in Jordan that ended earlier this month, the young forward captained the Canadian team that went 1-1-1, exiting after the first round.

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Coach Danny Worthington's 21-woman Canadian squad also includes Sura Yekka and Marie Levasseur, who like Rose and Carle have been capped at the senior level. It includes six other members of the U-17 team from Jordan.

For some countries, the U-20 tournament is their World Cup. But for Worthington and national team coach John Herdman, the under-20 program is a pipeline to the senior side.

"It's about identification, assessment and giving youth players an opportunity to gain tournament expertise," Worthington said in an interview. "That's what we're trying to achieve here."

That explains the absence of midfielder Jessie Fleming. The 18-year-old freshman at UCLA has become a fixture on the senior team so the Canadian Soccer Association has left her off the U-20 roster to give another player a chance to develop.

Worthington points to midfielder Sarah Stratigakis, who at 17 already has "nearly 26 projects," seven tournaments and some 2,000 minutes at youth level under her belt already.

The Canadian women were runners-up to the United States in the CONCACAF qualifying championship in late 2015 in Honduras, losing 1-0 in the final. Canada won all three of its pool games, outscoring the opposition 11-0 before beating Mexico 5-4 on penalties in the semi-final.

Defender Bianca St-Georges and Stratigakis were selected for the CONCACAF tournament's Best XI.

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Canada's roster there included three 15-year-olds, three 16-year-olds and four 17-year-olds. The average age of the Canadian squad for Papua New Guinea squad is 18.1.

In addition to heat, the Canadian women will face tough opposition in Papua New Guinea.

Japan won the 2014 U-17 World Cup in Costa Rica and was runner-up earlier this month at the 2016 U-17 championship in Jordan. Spain was the U-17 runner-up two years ago and finished third this year. Nigeria made the quarter-finals of the 2014 U-17 championship and was second in the 2014 U-20 tournament.

Papua New Guinea marks the seventh time Canada has qualified for the U-20 World Cup, missing out only once in 2010.

Canada was host of the 2014 U-20 tournament with the home side advancing to the quarter-finals before losing 2-0 to eventual winner Germany. It also reached the quarters in 2004.

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