Luck seems to have been on the facet of Canada’s girls’s crew throughout Saturday’s draw in Auckland for the 2023 FIFA World Cup.
The seventh-ranked Canadians had been in Pot 2 and prevented 5 of the prime ranked groups in the world who had been in Pot 1. As a end result, Canada ended up receiving a favourable end result because it was drawn into Group B alongside World Cup co-host Australia (No. 13), Ireland (No. 24) and Nigeria (No. 45) for subsequent summer season’s match.
Australia was the second-lowest-ranked crew Canada may have been pooled with out of Pot 1. Only co-host New Zealand (No. 22) had a decrease rating in the pot. In drawing Australia, Canada prevented match favourites Sweden (No. 2), Germany (No. 3), England (No. 4), France (No. 5) and Spain (No. 6).
Despite the advantageous draw, Canadian coach Bev Priestman performed it cool when chatting with reporters afterwards, saying “It may very well be worse, it may very well be higher.”
“Overall, there aren’t actually any simple video games. Even the likes of Ireland, Vera Pauw is a very skilled coach, they lately drew with Sweden… and so they’ll be out to show of their opening sport they belong at this World Cup,” Priestman stated.
“I’m excited greater than something, particularly to get a [host] nation, I believe that is going to convey an unbelievable ambiance.”
Notwithstanding Priestman downplaying Canada’s favourable draw, the reigning Olympic champions must be thought-about the sturdy favourites to win Group B. The prime two nations in every of the eight teams transfer on to the knockout spherical of the World Cup, which has been expanded from 24 to 32 groups.
Canadians have had Matilda’s quantity these days
The Canadians lead the all-time collection in opposition to Australia with eight wins and three attracts in 18 video games since their first assembly on Dec. 12, 1997. Canada has misplaced simply two of the final 11 matches (7-2-2) in opposition to the Matildas, and earned a pair of wins in opposition to the World Cup co-hosts in Australia in September.
World Cup debutantes Ireland has performed Canada solely as soon as earlier than, struggling a 2-1 loss in 2014. Canada sports activities an all-time report of 2-1-2 in opposition to Nigeria, recording a 2-0 win and 2-2 tie in a pair of matches in April in B.C. They additionally beforehand met at the World Cup, enjoying to a 3-3 draw in 1995, earlier than the Africans registered a 1-0 upset win in 2011 when Canada completed in final place in the 16-team match.
“I believe Nigeria are a very tough crew to play,” Priestman supplied. “I believe you noticed that, notably in the second sport we performed them [in Victoria], albeit, we made some rotations [to the starting lineup]. They’re not a straightforward crew to play and out of [Pot 3], they had been the crew you did not need.
“I believe they’ve athleticism, they appear extra organized than they’ve been and have a superb coach in Randy [Waldrum], so we can’t be underestimating them.”
Canada will play all of its matches at subsequent summer season’s World Cup in Australia, together with in the knockout spherical. The Olympic champions open their match vs. Nigeria on July 21 in Melbourne. Canada then faces Ireland on July 26 in Perth earlier than taking up Australia on July 31 again in Melbourne.
Canada avoids trio of powerhouses
The Canadians had been additionally lucky in that the top-ranked United States, Sweden and Spain ended up on the different facet of the bracket as a results of Saturday’s draw. But successful Group B is vitally necessary for Canada, as it will imply avoiding a round-of-16 showdown with England, the reigning European champions who additionally lately defeated the U.S. Both France and Germany are potential quarter-final and seminal opponents.
Should each Canada and England win their respective teams, a a lot simpler second-round match in opposition to No. 15 China or No. 18 Denmark would possible await Priestman’s facet.
“We must be aiming to prime our group since you look at the crossovers, and I’m not saying it is a provided that England will win their group, however you need to keep away from them in the spherical of 16. Any crew would say that based mostly on their latest success. So, we have now to go in with the mindset that we are able to and can prime that group, however it’s by no means simple in a match setting. Anything can occur,” Priestman stated.
Historically, the Canadians have struggled for success at the World Cup. Their greatest displaying got here in 2003 after they reached the semifinals and completed fourth total. But other than that, Canada has didn’t get out of the group stage on 4 events, and underwhelmed when it hosted the World Cup in 2015, bowing out in the quarter-finals. Canada was eradicated in the spherical of 16 at the 2019 match in France.
‘Feels like a shift in how folks really feel’
But the Reds have been the speak of the girls’s sport ever since successful gold at final summer season’s Tokyo Olympics, a formidable run that noticed them beat top-ranked nations Brazil, the U.S. and Sweden.
Prior to Saturday’s occasion in Auckland, Priestman mingled with coaches and officers from different groups, with a number of of them expressing how they weren’t keen to satisfy the Olympic champions in the group stage or knockout spherical.
“That’s fairly humbling as a result of [we were in Pot 2] with Brazil and a few actual powerhouses in the girls’s sport. It very a lot looks like there’s a shift in how folks will really feel to get Canada of their group and even the potential crossover. So, that is good. But at the similar time, we have to maintain pushing ahead in order that’s sustained,” Priestman stated.
Between now and subsequent summer season, Canada will make use of the 4 FIFA worldwide home windows to play World Cup tune-up matches. Priestman stated on Saturday that Canada Soccer is in the last levels of lining up highway video games for subsequent month and February. After that, the intention is to have residence matches in April, Priestman confirmed.