Begovic a team veteran

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

The Bosnian-born, Edmonton-raised Asmir Begovic will be a big key to Canada's success at the Under-20 World Cup.

The 20-year-old goaltender was part of the Canadian team that competed in the 2005 tournament in the Netherlands.

Begovic has been a member of the Under-20 side since December 2004, making his debut for the team as a 17-year-old in a 1-0 loss to the United States.

"We'll lean heavily on his experience," said Canadian head coach Dale Mitchell "Asmir plays a very important position for us being a goalkeeper. At a tournament like this, goalkeeping is very important. We'll need him to play well for us in order for us to do well in this tournament."

Signed by English Premier League side Portsmouth in 2003, Begovic spent time on loan in La Louviere, Belgium, and last year played for Macclesfield in England.

"I'm excited about getting an opportunity to play in Edmonton," Begovic said. "It's nice to be able to play such a big tournament at home. Just playing in Canada is great, we don't get to play a lot of games here, and it's an honour just to be able to play for your country."

The 6-foot-5, 210-lb. goaltender is projected to be the country's top goaltender in the near future. According to his goaltending coach in Portsmouth, Begovic has all the attributes to be one of the best in the world.

"I know if we're able to do well in the tournament people will definitely get behind us," Begovic said. "It's always good for soccer in this country when the national team does well."

CANADA #1

ASMIR BEGOVIC

Born June 20, 1987, in Trebinje, Yugoslavia, now part of Bosnia and Herzegovina ... Signed by Portsmouth and currently on loan to Macclesfield ... Lived in Germany after family fled Yugoslavia, then immigrated to Canada ... Has played in 14 matches with the U-20 squad, only conceding one goal in first five games with the team ... Speaks English, German, Bosnian and French ... Is one of six Canadian ambassadors for the U-20 World Cup.


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