Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Coach John Herdman Pleased with Olympic Women's Soccer Draw

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Coach John Herdman Pleased with Olympic Women's Soccer Draw

Article excerpt

Herdman pleased with Olympic soccer draw

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Canada has received a decent draw for the Olympic women's soccer tournament, grouped with Germany, Australia and Zimbabwe.

The Canadian women are ranked 10th in the world while Germany is No. 2, Australia No. 5 and Zimbabwe No. 95.

Placed in Group F via Thursday's draw at the historic Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Canada will play its first two games in Sao Paulo -- against Australia on Aug. 3 and Zimbabwe on Aug. 6 -- before shifting to Brasilia for its first-round finale against Germany on Aug. 9.

Host Brazil, ranked eighth, is in Group E with No. 6 Sweden, No. 12 China and No. 54 South Africa. The defending Olympic champion and top-ranked Americans are in Group G with No. 3 France, No. 16 New Zealand, and No. 24 Colombia.

The top two teams in each group, plus the two best third-place teams advance to the quarter-finals.

"I was pleased with the draw," Canadian coach John Herdman told The Canadian Press. "It threw up two good things -- one, the travel time's limited in Brazil around the group stage and the route to the final ... And then the next thing is we managed to avoid a team like Colombia who we know was going to really be one of those real tough opponents.

"With Germany, Australia and Zimbabwe, we've got a tough group but it's definitely an exciting one for us."

Should Canada finish second in its group, it will play the runner-up in Group E in the quarter-finals. The Group F winner arguably gets a tougher assignment -- against the Group G runner-up which could be France. Those two quarter-final winners would face off in the semifinals.

The other two group winners will face third-place teams in the quarter-finals.

Herdman said Canada cannot afford to be fancy about where it finishes. The approach has to be simple.

"Winning as many games as you can and making sure you get out of the group. That's the plan ... We'll have to be at our best every game to make sure we progress. And that's the way it always been for us, at every Olympics."

Canada won bronze four years ago in London. The Americans have won the last three Olympic tournaments and four of the five to date.

The draw was somewhere in the middle for Canada, which knew it would avoid the Americans in the pool phase given teams from the same confederation are traditionally kept part.

Brazil would likely have been a more preferable seeded team to face than Germany. But being drawn with the hosts ran the risk of also facing the talented French. It also would have meant playing the first two games in Rio with the players in the Olympic Village rather than Herdman's preferred hotel "FIFA-bubble" atmosphere.

Canada did avoid the 4,275-kilometre trek from Rio to Manaus, located in the midst of the Amazon rainforest. And it was grouped with the middle-ranked seed (Germany), the middle-ranked team (Australia) in Pot 2 and the lowest-ranked team in Pot 4 (Zimbabwe). …

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