Monday, July 4, 2011

Playing for pride

There may have been critics stating Canada shouldn’t be over hyped and probably won’t make it far in Germany but no one predicted Canada would be victim of the first blowout of the World Cup, the first team eliminated. No one. 

Canada put themselves on a pedestal, confidently predicting they’d make a deep run in Germany. They put their lives on hold, leaving family and friends behind, stepping away from their club teams to live in Rome and focus on preparations for the big dance.

No one expected them to win their opening match against the two time reigning World Cup champions, Germany but they kept the score tight. With their passion, determination, heart and Christine Sinclair’s heroics, Canada only lost to the host nation 2:1.

Against France, they showed none of their signature characteristics. Canada came out flat-footed and once French striker, Gaetane Thiney scored the opening goal Canada panicked and never recovered. They failed to play as a unit and as a result, they resorted to old habits playing a one dimensional, long-ball system rather than the possession style of play Carolina Morace has instilled in them since she arrived in Canada.

Harsh, but in short, Canada choked.

To say Canada had an off day seems like the easy answer as to what went down in Bochum. All credit to France who playing a near perfect match but one can’t help but wonder if Canada had played to their full potential, the match would have been different than a 4:0 defeat. Unfortunately the World Cup doesn’t accept “ifs, ands or buts.” Canada needed to perform and win but didn’t show up.

Now the team must forget about Thursday’s match (for now at least). They must wash the awful taste from their mouths and focus on leaving Germany with something to hold on to.

27th ranked Nigeria won’t be an easy task, by any means. The African team is very physical. Their athleticism has always been apparent and their defending has been very effective in this tournament thus far – holding off France and Germany to a one goal game. If Canada wants to leave Germany on a good note, have a little bit of confidence heading into Olympic qualifiers in Vancouver, they can’t hold anything back and leave everything on the pitch. Win this game and prove not only to the world but most importantly themselves they can do more than what they’ve performed so far. 

Canada takes on Nigeria in their final group match on Tuesday July 5th at 2:30pm EST on CBC. Streamed live on Replay will be at 7pm local also on CBC. 

Possible starting XI:          
                      Nault, Zurrer, Champan, Wilkinson
                              Schmidt, Matheson, Kyle        
                              Sinclair, Tancredi, Filigno       

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