Begovic on the spot

Canadian goalie Asmir Begovic makes a save during practice in Edmonton on Tuesday. (Sun...

Canadian goalie Asmir Begovic makes a save during practice in Edmonton on Tuesday. (Sun Media/Darryl Dyck)

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

As bad as things were for Canada in their opening game at the Under-20 World Cup, it could have been much worse had it not been for Asmir Begovic.

The Canadian goalkeeper kept his team in the game through the first half and was the reason the score didn't get out of hand. He was left with virtually no chance on all of the Chilean goals in a 3-0 loss.

If Canada hopes to rebound tonight in their second game against Austria, Begovic will once again need to be sharp.

"Asmir has proven himself in many games and on many occasions, with big saves and clutch saves for us," said Canadian defender David Edgar. "As a defender it gives you such a confidence boost having such a massive goalkeeper behind you. You know if they're taking shots from 25 or 30 yards you know he's going to save them, so it gives us a big confidence boost."

Chile tested Begovic early in their opening contest in Toronto, launching shots from anywhere near the penalty area.

Begovic was up to the task turning all of the long-distance drives away. His best save came on a screamer from Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal which was labelled for the bottom corner.

"I was surprised that they were taking those shots, I was almost expecting them to try and walk the ball into the net," Edgar said. "I think the Austrians are going to see that and know that they can't score goals like that against Asmir."

The three goals the Chileans did manage on the Canadian keeper were from in close. The first was a gift from defender Marcus Haber who in an attempt to break up a pass put the ball on a platter for Chilean striker Nicolas Media to slot into the top corner.

The second came as Carlos Carmona was left alone at the far post to head home a ball knocked back across the net following a free kick.

Jaime Grondona rounded out the scoring redirecting a header past Begovic from in close.

"The goals were unfortunate, it's just something that happens," Begovic said. "We have to be much better when we play against Austria. We have to do this collectively.

"It was good to get those early touches on the ball, it gets you into the game. But whether you're busy or not, you have to try and stay in the game and make those saves the team needs you to."

Officially the Chileans had 19 attempts on goal against Canada - nine of them were on target. Canada had two shots on goal with only one of them forcing the Chilean goalkeeper Cristopher Toselli to make a save.

"That was a disappointing game for us, but it was disappointing for Asmir as well. He had an unbelievable game but to say three goals were scored against him, it's tough for him," Edgar said. "Obviously I don't think his confidence is shot because of that and I'm sure he's going to have another unbelievable game. But as a back four unit, us defenders we need to step our game up and sort out the problems we had."

Against Austria, Canada will attempt to neutralize star striker Erwin Hoffer. Nicknamed Jimmy after Teamsters union leader Jimmy Hoffa, the 20-year-old striker has 20 goals in 33 youth international matches and scored the only goal in a 1-1 tie against Congo on Monday.

"We know he's a key player, but we're not a team that pays more attention to one player over another," Begovic said. "We know he's there, we'll try to cut him out, but he's more or less just another guy to me."


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