'Keeper 'amped' by prospect of playing Brazil

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:09 AM ET

No member of Canada's under-20 men's soccer team is more excited about Friday's game than goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

Despite growing up in Edmonton, Begovic has never played for a national team in his hometown so he's undoubtedly amped up for the contest at Commonwealth Stadium. But Begovic isn't exactly getting a cakewalk - far from it, in fact. The 19-year-old, who has shot up to six-foot-five since moving to Europe three years ago, is bound to be facing a barrage of scoring chances from the talented Brazilians.

"I guess if you're going to play a game in Edmonton, that's the team you'd want to play against," smiled Begovic after yesterday's workout in St. Albert.

"It's definitely different playing against Brazil. You look at what they've done and you know they're good so you have to bring your best game."

However, Begovic, who earned his first stint with Canada's senior men's team last November, is accustomed to sizable challenges. At the tender age of 16, he left home and landed a contract with English Premier side Portsmouth. To have him garner some much-needed playing time, Portsmouth loaned him out to La Louviere in Belgium this past season.

"My experience has been so worthwhile that I'd recommend it to any kid," said Begovic. "I wouldn't have this life if I would have stayed here.

"If you get the chance, you have to take it."

That same "take a chance" philosophy will be on Canada's mind against the mighty Brazilians in the first of three matches of a tour that continues next week in Victoria and Burnaby, B.C. There is no way the Canadians can match Brazil in the skill department so they'll be chasing down some measure of success any way they can.

"You'd think it would be a blowout but there have always been shocks in the past," said Canuck midfielder Jaime Peters.

"Our approach is to play the way Canada plays. We have a lot of variety so maybe we'll come out and Brazil will be shocked by the way we play. If we can be calm and not too nervous maybe we can shock them a bit.

"I know I'm going to go out there and shock them - show them I can play at the top level. Hopefully everyone else on our team can do the same."

It would be quite a shock if Canada stays within a goal or two let alone comes away with a victory.

Last January, the Canadians were riding a four-game winning streak and had swept their group to qualify for the 2005 World Youth Championship. But since then the U-20s have managed only four draws in their last 10 matches.

FREE KICKS: Canada will be without midfielder Jacob Lensky who begged off the tour to rest following his first pro season with Glasgow Celtic.


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