Whitby’s Smith bags equalizer, Chukwa scores twice in ET; Canada qualifies for U20 World Cup

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Published June 5, 2023 at 8:23 am

Olivia Smith tied it in the 74th minutes and substitute Annabelle Chukwu scored twice in extra time Sunday to send Canada to next year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup with a 5-3 comeback win over Costa Rica in the third-place match at the CONCACAF Women’s U20 Championship.

Chukwu had come off the bench to open the second half and had several good chances – including one shot that hit the post – before delivering the winner in the 101st minute after Kayla Briggs and Ella Ottey combined to send an inviting cross for Chukwu to accept.

The 16 year-old added an insurance goal in the 121st minute to send the Canadians to the 2024 U20 World Cup.

Florianne Jourde and Ottey also scored in the third place match for Canada, which trailed 3-2 at the half.

Mexico got a late goal from Fatima Servin to beat the USA 2-1 in the gold medal game. All three countries qualify for the World Cup.

Smith, who became the youngest Canadian ever capped by the senior squad when she played two games in 2019, scored four times in the tournament to move to second place all-time for youth international goals by a Canadian with 24, ahead of Jordyn Huitema (23) and behind only Christine Sinclair’s 27.

The pride of Whitby and Canadian captain could have had another Sunday, only to slot her penalty in the 33rd minute wide of the goal.

Chukwa’s brace Sunday also gave her four in the tournament as well and the two Canadians tied with Americans Madeline Dahlien and All Sentnor for second, behind Golden Shoe winner Sheika Scott of Costa Rica, who scored six. Scott contributed one of Costa Rica’s goals Sunday and also scored in her country’s narrow 2-1 defeat to the USA in Friday’s semi-final.

Canada very nearly reached the final, only losing their semi-final to Mexico on Alice Sota’s heartbreaker in the second minute of extra time.

The Canadians have now qualified for eight U20 World Cups, missing only in 2010 and 2018. They have hosted the tournament twice, including the inaugural competition in 2002 when 47,000 fans in Edmonton watched the Canadians lose 2-1 to the USA in the final. Sinclair was the Golden Ball (MVP) and Golden Shoe (10 goals) winner in the tournament.

They also hosted in 2014, losing to eventual champions Germany in the quarter-final.

Canada has won the CONCACAF championship twice: in 2004 and 2008.

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