Canadian silver lining

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

If Canadians were looking for a reason to wave their own flag, like soccer fans around the world love to do, they may have found some last night at BMO Field.

Prior to the exhibition in advance of this summer's Under-20 World Cup, Canadian star David Edgar said he doesn't believe there is such a thing as a friendly.

The feisty home side lived up to that ideal, battling defending champs and perennial world powers Argentina to the end. Gabriel Mercado's header in the 87th minute gave the visitors a 2-1 win to spoil things.

But in an energetic 90 minutes, the hosts suggested they won't be a pushover when the World Cup is played across Canada in July.

Drowned out early by the noisy minority of Argentine fans, the Canadian supporters quickly held their own.

"The atmosphere was unbelievable," said Canadian keeper Asmir Begovic, who hopes for more of the same when the team opens the tournament here against Chile on July 1. "The fact that we can give a team like Argentina problems is a great confidence builder for us."

Jamie Peters emerged as a fan favourite and a force every time he touched the ball.

The Pickering resident, who plays professionally in England for Ipswich Town, was a speedy force on both wings, creating opportunities for his teammates all night.

"He's very fast and he controls the ball," Argentina's Matias Sanchez said. "You have to take care of him."

Scrappy Edgar, the Kitchener native and prospect for Newcastle United of the English Premiership, won over some supporters as well.

Edgar, who scored a goal against Manchester United earlier this year, provided Canada's lone score. Trailing 1-0 in the 18th minute, he showed his poise from the spot, calmly burying a shot in the bottom right corner on a penalty kick.

Argentina had opened the scoring fewer than four minutes earlier when Alejandro Gomez took advantage of a Canadian miscue at the back end. Gomez scooted in alone and easily put it past Begovic.

The game was listed as a sellout of 20,055, helped by the fact Toronto FCseason-ticket holders were given freebies.

The Canadians will take positives from the result against the more polished opponent, even though the South American powerhouse didn't send many of its projected starters.

"I'm proud of the way our boys coped," Canadian coach Dale Mitchell said. "They competed and they played with energy. Overall it was positive for us."


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