NEW YORK: Teenage winger Alphonso Davies scored twice as Canada withstood a fightback from minnows French Guiana to open their CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign with a 4-2 victory in Group A on Friday (Saturday in Manila).
Vancouver Whitecaps forward Davies, 16, who was born in a refugee camp in Ghana in 2000 as his family fled fighting in Liberia, finished clinically in the 60th and 85th minutes to give Canada all three points at the Red Bull Arena.
Davies’ second goal snuffed out French Guiana’s hopes of salvaging a draw after they scored twice in the second half through Roy Contout and Sloan Privat after Canada had earlier cruised into a 3-0 lead.
It was a dazzling debut from Davies, who only became a Canadian citizen in June and who has reportedly been scouted by English giants Manchester United and Liverpool.
French Guiana’s preparations for the game had been overshadowed by controversy concerning forward Florent Malouda.
The former France and Chelsea star had hoped to play for the territory of his birth but was deemed ineligible by CONCACAF chiefs on Thursday.
French Guiana manager Jair Karam had threatened to play Malouda regardless—and risk forfeiting the game—but eventually opted not to start the veteran.
Canada, the only other team to win the Gold Cup outside of Mexico and the United States, had earlier dominated the exchanges at with New York Cosmos defender Dejan Jakovic bundling home from close range in the 28th minute to make it 1-0.
Scotland-born Burnley midfielder Scott Arfield doubled Canada’s lead on the stroke of half-time, surging forward and shooting low to beat the diving Leon.
|Davies added a third midway through the second half, latching onto a deft pass from Lucas Cavallini to burst clear and slip his finish beneath Donovan Leon.
However Canada were given a scare when Contout’s header in the 69th minute made it 3-1. Guingamp striker Privat was then on hand to stab home a close-range finish moments to make it 3-2 before Davies’ late strike settle Canada’s nerves.
In Friday’s other opening Group A game, 2014 World Cup quarterfinalists Costa Rica downed Honduras to open their campaign with a win.
San Jose Earthquakes striker Marco Urena scored the game’s only goal, tucking away Rodney Wallace’s cross in the 39th minute.