VANCOUVER, B.C – As Canada prepares this week for the Four Nations Tournament in China, the World Cup is squarely on everyone’s minds. And a match against China will serve as a look ahead to Canada’s opening match.
Canada coach John Herdman would like to see his team get off to a fast start next June at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. There is no room for complacency or a slow start out of the gates, and Herdman doesn’t want to see the host country stumble.
“I think it’s a good draw for Canada,” Herdman said in December. “It wasn’t the easiest group, but it’s not the hardest either and it’s a group where you have to start fast. You can’t work you way into this group and build momentum through it, you’ve got to be right at the races right from the first game and you won’t be able to drop a game.”
[MORE: Herdman names 23-player roster for Four Nations Tournament]
The latest FIFA ranking that were released on Dec. 19 have Canada slipping down to 9th in the world. Their three Group A opponents all made advancements with the Netherlands making a four-spot leap up to 11th. China (13) and New Zealand (18) each moved up one spot. Canada will see China on Jan. 15 at the Four Nations Tournament.
Despite the new rankings and the gains the rest of the World is making, Herdman is as confident as always as he talks about his team and what he feels they can accomplish. Most pundits believe Canada will have a competitive and somewhat challenging Group A. However, Herdman thinks his side will comfortably win Group A.
“Yeah I think we can, I think that’s the beauty of the group,” he said. “We’re ranked higher than these teams, and I know rankings don’t always tell the full story, but we are ranked higher and we’ve won things they’ve never won. We’ve certainly have not been beaten by these teams in my time.”
The Group A team that seems to be closing the gap on Canada is the Netherlands. The offensive ability and strikers that coach Roger Reijners has assembled on his team could certainly pose a threat for Canada and other World Cup teams should a Holland hot-streak continue when June arrives. Herdman was complimentary when talking about the offensive abilities of the Netherlands.
“I think with the Netherlands they just have a strike force that has really grown together and started to show that they can match it with most teams,” Herdman said. “That’s why I would say that they could be dark-horses, because if you’ve got two strikers that can score great goals you can go far in a tournament built on a great solid defense.”
Canada kicks off the Four Nations Tournament against South Korea Republic on Sunday before facing Mexico on Jan. 13 and China on Jan. 15. Herdman would prefer not to play China next week and he would also like to avoid the Netherlands and New Zealand at the Cyprus Cup in March.
“Not really,” Herdman said of any desire to play the Netherlands or New Zealand before the World Cup. “I think these teams gain more from us than we gain from them. I always like to play teams that are ranked higher than me and teams that are going to test our resilience from a performance perspective. I think they gain a little bit more so if we can avoid playing against them we will.”
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