Noah Verhoeven’s 80th-minute goal gave Canada a 1-0 victory over Turkey on Thursday at the Festival International Espoirs in France.
Canada, making its debut at the prestigious youth soccer event, fielded an under-21 side Thursday while Turkey used an under-20 side.
The young Canadians tied Portugal in their opening match. They play Japan on Sunday.
“We wanted to come here and get some results, but we wanted to also gain experience for the players,” said Mauro Biello, who is coaching the Canadian team along with senior men’s coach John Herdman. “This is the first time the players are together, so we wanted to establish a culture and an identity with them. Credit to the players, they are reacting to that and they are fighting out there for the results. This is very important for us.”
Better known as the Toulon Tournament, the competition has seen the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Jean-Pierre Papin, Cafu, Alan Shearer and Frank Lampard since its inception in 1967.
Verhoeven’s left-footed shot from distance ended up in the left-hand corner of the net. Shamit Shome, a 20-year-old midfielder on loan from the Montreal Impact to Ottawa Fury FC, got the assist.
Verhoeven plays for Fresno FC, a Vancouver Whitecaps affiliate. The 18-year-old midfielder from Surrey, B.C., has been with the Whitecaps organization since the age of nine.
His goal came one minute after Canadian Liam Millar hit the post with a shot.
Canada has never beaten Turkey at the senior men’s level with the Turks winning a pair of 1995 friendlies in Montreal and Toronto, according to the Canadian Soccer Association.
A Canadian under-20 side beat Turkey 1-0 in 2004. The two youth teams also played to a 1-1 tie that year.
The Canadian Press