Canada supporters cheer during their team's FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup match against Korea DPR on August 12, 2014, in Montreal, Canada. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
MONTREAL – With kick-off nearing for the decisive FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup match, the first cheer on Tuesday rose from the stands as the starting XI was announced for host Canada. It only got louder as the game progressed and even more booming after the home team scored the only goal of a 1-0 victory over Korea DPR.
As Canada’s “12th person”, the 13,031 spectators at Stade Olympique in Montréal were tasked with providing the players on the pitch with the inspiration necessary for them to progress to the quarterfinals for the first time since Thailand 2004.
Needless to say, the mission was accomplished magnificently.
“I think the stadium itself had an effect," said Canada head coach Andrew Olivieri. "The same crowd in Toronto would have felt the same way in Montréal with the size and the echo.”
Canada's tournament objective has always been to play as many matches as possible. If it can defeat Germany in their quarterfinal pairing on August 16, the CONCACAF power will be guaranteed the maximum six international matches. That number will ensure the young U-20 players the best possible experience on their way up to the national "A" squad.
“We just knew we had to be patient,” Olivieri stressed. “The way Korea DPR dropped off in the first and in the second half made it really difficult to get in behind them. We’ve been at our best when we’ve been able to run at defences and run behind them. Without that space it became difficult in behind them so we just had to find a different way. We had to be patient and we needed some individual quality to make the difference. We were lucky we got that from Amandine who just came in and was good for us.”
Indeed, a dedicated section of Amandine Pierre-Louis supporters jumped from its seats when the Comètes de Laval striker entered the match in the 59th minute. Six minutes later, she helped set up the winning goal, slipping a pass to Nichelle Prince in the box, who pushed the ball along to goalscorer Janine Beckie.
The crowd, yearning for a reason to get up and holler its support, did so with an extended ovation every bit as vocal as the ones in Toronto during Canada’s first two games.
“We knew we couldn’t take a chance and how crucial it was to maintain the lead and we just had to make decisions to secure everything in the back and make sure that one goal lead stood,” noted Olivieri.
His squad avoided any defensive lapses and maintained the lead up until the end.
“The first half was quite intense but as a back line we decided to stay connected,” said defender Kadeisha Buchanan. “We knew that once we were connected that nothing would hurt us. Hopefully we’ll stay as connected through the rest of the tournament.”
Canada will face the Germans on Saturday, 18.00 local kick-off, at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. (20.00 ET / 17.00 PT). Tickets to the match are available online at www.FIFA.com/Canada2014 as well as in person at the stadium ticket box office.