Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Heads East with Work to Do at Women's World Cup before Knockout Round

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Heads East with Work to Do at Women's World Cup before Knockout Round

Article excerpt

Canada heads east with more work to do


EDMONTON - Canada headed east Friday, celebrating captain Christine Sinclair's 32nd birthday along the way.

The Canadians (1-0-1) wrap up pool play at the Women's World Cup on Monday in Montreal against the Netherlands (1-1-0), knowing victory at Olympic Stadium will leave them atop Group A with a more benign road in the knockout rounds.

But, after a 1-0 win over China and 0-0 draw with New Zealand, they leave behind warning signs in Edmonton in the form of a misfiring offence and an at-times wobbly defence.

Progress to the second round is not a concern at an expanded tournament where 16 teams advance. But the road that awaits them in the knockout stages is.

A win over the 12th-ranked Dutch means less travel and avoiding other group winners until deeper in the tournament. The scenarios get more complex and difficult with a second- or third-place finish.

The New Zealand draw, coupled with China's 1-0 win over the Netherlands, tightened up Group A. Canada leads with four points, the Chinese and the Dutch both have three and New Zealand is on one.

Coach John Herdman had hoped to rotate his eighth-ranked squad in Montreal, saving some of his bullets for later. That's not going to happen now.

"We're still in the driving seat to finish top of the group, and that's our goal," he said after the New Zealand match. "It just means going into the Netherlands, we've still got to stay in fifth gear. It would have been nice if we could have dropped down to fourth (gear) in that game. But Canada seems to do it the hard way, that's how we roll.

"So we're rolling into this game with a mindset of finish top of the group. A point might do that for us, three points will guarantee it."

Added Sinclair: "Top of the group after two games. We can't have too many complaints."

After opening with a 1-0 win over New Zealand, the debutante Dutch looked poor against China. Overrun in midfield, they were going backwards most of the game.

But they have quality and pace up front and were dangerous on the counter-attack. That will be a concern given some defensive frailties shown by Canada.

Herdman acknowledged he almost pulled off centre back Lauren Sesselmann after an erratic period in the China game. He did substitute Sesselmann, who is coming back from knee surgery, in the 68th minute against New Zealand but said after the game it was a planned move. …

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