Two CPL players were added to Canada’s under-23 team on the eve of its opening game at the Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Mexico.
Fullbacks Mo Farsi of Cavalry FC and York United FC’s Diyaeddine Abzi were named to coach Mauro Biello’s 20-man roster ahead of Canada’s match versus El Salvador on Friday (OneSoccer, 6:00 p.m. ET).
Farsi and Abzi have been training with the Canadian squad since the start of the pre-tournament camp in Guadalajara. They replace Pacific FC defender Thomas Meilleur-Giguère and winger Kris Twardek of Polish club Jagiellonia Białystok, who are both unavailable for the tournament due to medical reasons.
Farsi, a 21-year-old native of Montreal, is coming off a breakout rookie season in the CPL, scoring one goal and tallying an assist in 10 appearances for Cavalry at last summer’s Island Games in PEI. Farsi was recognized for his outstanding form by being named the CPL’s Best Canadian U-21 Player of the Year.
Abzi, 22, is considered one of the best fullbacks in the CPL, scoring one goal and adding four assists in 35 appearances for York the past two seasons.
Farsi and Abzi join fellow CPLer David Norman Jr., a midfielder with Cavalry FC, on this Canadian team. Norman Jr. has represented Canada at the U-15 and U-17 levels, and with Canada’s U-23 side that featured in the 2018 Toulon Tournament. He is also the son of former Canadian international David Norman Sr.
This Canadian under-23 side also features a number of players who have earned senior team caps, including Derek Cornelius, Marcus Godinho, Zachary Brault-Guillard, Charles-Andreas Brym, Theo Bair, Zorhan Bassong and Ballou Tabla.
Canada returns to Group B action when it faces Haiti on March 22 and Honduras on March 25. Group A consists of Mexico, the United States, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.
Canada must finish in the top two in Group B in order to advance to the semifinals on March 28, with only the two tournament finalists qualifying for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
The last time Canada participated at the Summer Games was in 1984 in Los Angeles when it reached the quarter-finals, so Biello’s side will be looking to end the country’s lengthy Olympic drought.
1- GK- James Pantemis | CAN / CF Montréal
2- FB- Zachary Brault-Guillard | CAN / CF Montréal
3- FB- Zorhan Bassong | CAN / CF Montréal
4- FB- Diyaeddine Abzi | CAN / York United FC
5- CB- Derek Cornelius | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
6- M- Michael Baldisimo | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
7- W- Tajon Buchanan | USA / New England Revolution
8- M- David Norman | CAN / Cavalry FC
9- F- Charles-Andreas Brym | BEL / Royal Excel Mouscron
10- M- Aidan Daniels | USA / Oklahoma City Energy
11- F- Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla | CAN / CF Montréal
12- F- Mohamed Farsi | CAN / Cavalry FC
13- FB- Marcus Godinho | GER / FSV Zwickau
14- M- Ryan Raposo | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
15- F- Theo Bair | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
16- CB- Callum Montgomery | USA / Minnesota United FC
17- M- Patrick Metcalfe | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
18- GK- Matthew Nogueira | POR / CS Marítimo
19- GK- Sebastian Breza | ITA / FC Bologna
20- F- Lucas Dias | POR / Sporting CP U-23