With the senior team having crashed out of World Cup qualifying, Canadian under-20 coach Nick Dasovic hopes to give home fans something to cheer about by qualifying for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Canada was drawn Wednesday in a group with Cuba and Nicaragua in Group B of the 12-team CONCACAF championship, which is scheduled from Feb. 18 to March 3 in Puebla, Mexico.
Some of Dasovic's players have already taken part in a FIFA U-17 World Cup. A berth in the U-20 world tournament and "it's going to write itself a good story," said Dasovic.
"In order to get some level of excitement around the team, I think it's important we look to qualify. Again if it does go negative, it's not a make or break for these kids. This is a chance for them learning what it means to play for your country, learning how to play in different environments.
"It can only better them going down the line," added the former Canadian international. "It's a learning experience but if you ask me if we win [advance at the qualifying tournament] and we get through, will it help, I think absolutely it's going to help the program to get itself back on its feet and look good for the future."
Dasovic says the hangover of the loss in Honduras has not impacted his team. He likes the ambition and attitude of his squad but there is more work to be done.
Wants team with 'a mean streak'
He wants a team with "a mean streak" when it comes to winning.
"What we're saying is we need to have these kids become ruthless become winners and know how to win games, know how to manage games, know what it means to win games. We have to be a country where we hate to lose games."
To qualify, Dasovic's team will have to reach the semifinals of the CONCACAF tournament.
Group A features the U.S., Costa Rica and Haiti. Group C is made up of Jamaica, Panama and Puerto Rico against each other while Group D comprises defending champion Mexico, El Salvador and Curacao.
Dasovic said he believes Canada got a favourable draw in its pool. But it will have to beat a team from powerful Group A in the quarter-final cross-over.
Canada's goal will be to win its pool and play the runner-up in Group A, likely Costa Rica with the Americans favoured to win the pool.
Costa Rica finished runner-up at the 2011 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, losing the final to Mexico.
The Central Americans reached the round of 16 at the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia and have qualified for the last three tournaments.
Costa Rica was fourth at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt.
The Canadians will have a first-hand look at Costa Rica during the current camp. They are slated to go to Costa Rica to play them in a game organized prior to the tournament draw.
Canada last appeared in the U-20 World Cup when it hosted the event in 2007. The Canadians exited after the first round having failed to win or score a goal.
The current Canadian roster includes midfielder Samuel Piette, who made his debut for the senior side in June.
Toronto FC defender Doneil Henry and midfielder Bryce Alderson of the Vancouver Whitecaps are also part of the squad.
The first- and second-place teams from each group advance to the quarter-finals, scheduled for Feb. 26-27.
The four semifinalists, who will face off March 1, advance to the world championship starting June 21 in Turkey.
The U.S. and Mexico are the CONCACAF heavyweights in this age group.
The Mexicans have made 12 FIFA U-20 World Cup appearances and have won 11 CONCACAF crowns. The Americans are looking for their 13th appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.