Within minutes of studying her team’s path on the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Canada coach Bev Priestman was trying deep into the draw.
The seventh-ranked Canadians prevented a few of the event heavyweights in being drawn with co-host Australia, Ireland and Nigeria in Group B.
Australia, at No. 13, was the second-lowest-ranked team the Olympic champion Canadians might have confronted out of Pot 1. Only co-host New Zealand, at No. 22, had a decrease rating within the pot containing the co-hosts and high seeds.
And Priestman’s team is accustomed to Australia and No. 45 Nigeria, having performed each twice this yr. Ireland, ranked twenty fourth, will likely be making its World Cup debut.
“I’m excited,” Priestman, talking from Auckland, stated of Saturday’s draw. “It could possibly be worse, it could possibly be higher.
The high two in every pool will advance to the spherical of 16 with the Group B winner dealing with the runner-up in Group D and the Group B runner-up taking up the Group D winner.
That means a potential difficult date with No. 4 England, No. 15 China or No. 18 Denmark.
The expanded 32-country subject made for a extra benign touchdown zone for most high groups. But Group D is among the more durable neighbourhoods and Olympic champion Canada must get via it to succeed in the quarter-finals.
Priestman stated the aim will likely be to win the group, in order to keep away from a probable assembly with in-form England, which defeated the top-ranked Americans final month.
Canada defeated Australia twice in September, 1-0 and 2-1 in Brisbane and Sydney respectively, and is 6-2-2 in opposition to the Matildas this century. Having simply performed Down Under, it additionally is aware of what to anticipate.
The Canadians received their solely assembly with Ireland, 2-1 in 2014.
But the draw didn’t do Canada any favours in No. 45 Nigeria, the highest-ranked team in Pot 4. The Super Falcons have by no means missed a World Cup and made the quarterfinals in 1999.
Canada is 2-1-2 all-time in opposition to Nigeria, recording a 2-0 win and 2-2 tie once they met in a pair of matches in April in B.C.
“Nigeria are a really tough team to play,” stated Priestman.
Two of their earlier matchups got here in previous World Cups. The two groups tied 3-3 on the 1995 event and Canada misplaced 1-0 to Nigeria in a disastrous exhibiting on the 2011 competitors the place it completed final.
Tourney begins July 20
The opening matches subsequent yr will see New Zealand play Norway in Auckland and Australia face Ireland in Sydney, each on July 20 (native time).
The Canadians will play their opening-round video games in Australia, beginning with Nigeria on July 21 in Melbourne. Canada will then face Ireland on July 26 in Perth earlier than assembly Australia on July 31 again in Melbourne.
The draw means Canada will play all of its matches in Australia, together with the knockout rounds.
No. 3 Germany or No. 5 France might await Canada within the quarterfinals
It’s the primary Women’s World Cup to be held in two international locations, the primary with an expanded 32-country subject, up from 24, and the primary within the Southern Hemisphere.
“It’s getting actual!!!” tweeted Canadian defender Vanessa Gilles.
The 64-game event is scheduled to run via Aug. 20 throughout 10 totally different venues in 9 totally different cities — 5 cities in Australia and 4 in New Zealand.
Priestman and Canada Soccer common secretary Earl Cochrane have been within the viewers for the draw, together with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian federal minister for sport, Anika Wells. Canadian Victor Montagliani, president of CONCACAF and a FIFA vice-president, was additionally available.
Three groups nonetheless TBD
The trophy was additionally there, introduced in by former U.S. coach Jill Ellis, who received it in 2015 and 2019.
Former gamers Carli Lloyd, Alexi Lalas, Gilberto Silva and Ian Wright have been amongst these participating in Saturday’s ceremony at Auckland’s Aotea Centre.
The 29 certified groups together with three slots but to be crammed have been divided into 4 pots by seeding for the draw.
Canada was positioned in Pot 2, which additionally included the eighth-ranked Netherlands, No. 9 Brazil, No. 11 Japan, No. 12 Norway, No. 14 Italy, No. 15 China and No. 17 South Korea.
In addition the event co-hosts, Pot 1 featured the top-ranked U.S., No. 2 Sweden, No. 3 Germany, No. 4 England, No. 5 France and No. 6 Spain.
Canada was refrained from the U.S. and fellow CONCACAF sides Costa Rica and Jamaica beneath FIFA’s “common principle” that no group has a couple of team from the identical confederation.
That doesn’t apply to Europe, due to the variety of potential entrants — 11 or probably 12 relying within the playoff event.
The Philippines, Morocco, Vietnam and Zambia may even be making their Women’s World Cup debut.
Vietnam, ranked thirty fourth, lands within the deep finish with a gap sport in opposition to the four-time champion U.S.
At the 2019 World Cup in France, Canada was drawn in a pool with the Netherlands, Cameroon and New Zealand. The Canadians completed second to the Dutch within the group and misplaced 1-0 to Sweden within the spherical of 16.
The Canadian ladies are 10-2-3 this yr and have received 4 straight since shedding 1-0 to the U.S. within the closing of the CONCACAF W Championship in Mexico in July.
Canada’s finest end on the World Cup was fourth in 2003.
The three remaining groups for the 2023 competitors will come from the 10-team Inter-Confederation Playoff Tournament, scheduled for Feb. 17-23 in Auckland.
The subject options two groups from Asia (Chinese Taipei and Thailand), two from Africa (Cameroon and Senegal), two from CONCACAF (Haiti and Panama), two from South America (Chile and Paraguay), one from Oceania (Papua New Guinea) and one from Europe (Portugal).