If Canada earns a berth at the 2013 junior World Cup, a significant number of the current Canadian national team will be aged up and too old to participate.
That makes Canada's expectations for the upcoming Pan American junior championships in Mexico bittersweet for some of the players who have helped lift the fortunes of the national team over the past few seasons.
In the last year, Canada has gone from a continental non-factor to rivalling the current Pan Am and former World Cup champion Argentina in recent matches.
Earlier this year Canada split a two-game exhibition series with Argentina in Chile, where they posted an 8-1 record, including a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the South American powerhouse.
This year, Canada has posted an overall 162 record in international friendlies against - Chile, Mexico and the United States - the three teams they will likely have to beat to earn one of two berths at the World Cup in New Delhi, India next year.
Twenty-one-yearold Ali Currimbhoy and Gabriel Garcia-Ho, both of Burnaby, are two of the current junior national squad.
The Canadian junior squad also includes New Westminster brothers Matthew and Stephen Bissett, both 21, and younger brother Brenden.
Currimbhoy earned his first international junior cap against Chile last year and has been on the squad for every tour since.
Garcia-Ho, 19, whose first appearance with the junior nats was as a 17year-old in Mexico at the 2010 Pan Ams, already has six senior caps to his name.
But it's Mexico, where Canada finished a disappointing fourth in 2010, that dogs him still.
"We could have easily won the seminfinal match in 2010," the Burnaby forward said of the junior Olympic qualifying game.
As chance would have it, Pan Am champion Argentina declined the opportunity to go to the junior Olympics that year and the runner-up United States would have been overage as a team, leaving bronze medallist Chile to represent the region.
"It turns out we could have gone. We threw away the chance we had to go to represent Canada at the junior Olympics," said Garcia-Ho. "It's been in the back of my mind and missing that opportunity, it makes me more motivated to win this tournament."
On paper, Canada should qualify. Their toughest competition in opening pool play should be host Mexico, who Canada easily outscored 17-1 in a three-match series in June.
If outcomes at the Pan Ams keep to form, Canada would meet either Chile or the U.S. in the semifinals. The top two countries would both earn berths at the World Cup.
But for Currimbhoy, a successful outcome would come at a cost for the overage midfielder.
"Obviously, it's something you think about not being able to play next year, and knowing you want to make the transition to the senior team, you want to work on your strenghs," said the Burnaby Mountain grad. "I can't control whether they'll pick me. I can just work on making myself better, and that's what I've been doing, and so far, it's paying off.
"I want to go to international games and play for Canada, and hopefully put our team through and play for the World Cup. It's a big deal and the job's not done yet."
If Canada is to be successful at the Pan Ams, it will happen with a good old lunch-bucket effort, said Garcia-Ho.
"We're a hardworking team up front. The amount of turnovers they get that end up in goals is shocking," he said. "We're that team that goes for the back post, back-post deflections, tap-ins, rebounds. We're that type of team. Our goals come from teamwork. When we play well as a team, we play very well."
And that is why the prospect of possibly making it to the World Cup without so many of his teammates is difficult for Garcia-Ho.
"You want them to come," he said. "You've seen them work - the struggle over the years. I want (Ali) to come with me. I feel sorry. You see how much work they've put in. They should be there."
But Currimbhoy prefers to focus on the bigger picture.
"There is more important things to focus on than me not going to the world Cup," he said. "If I come home with a gold medal, not going to the World Cup won't feel so bad, anyways."