After surviving Cameroon, Canada now turns its attention to New Zealand and a familiar face in Tom Sermanni at the Women’s World Cup.
The 64-year-old Scot spent a year as a technical assistant/assistant coach with the Canadian women and was on staff under John Herdman at the 2015 World Cup in Canada.
“So I’m sure he knows us fairly well,” captain Christine Sinclair, who turns 36 Wednesday, said wryly. “They’re a gritty team, well-organized, another team that makes it difficult to play. It’ll be a good game.”
The Football Ferns, ranked 19th in the world, lost 1-0 Tuesday to the eighth-ranked Netherlands on a stoppage-time header by substitute Jill Roord in their opener in Le Havre. The loss dropped New Zealand’s all-time record at the tournament to 0-10-2.
WATCH | Sinclair happy with squad’s performance:
While the European champion Dutch had 69 per cent possession and outshot New Zealand 8-2, the teams were tied with three shots apiece on target. New Zealand also hit the crossbar in the 11th minute.
The result keeps Canada and the Netherlands on a collision course for Group E supremacy. The two will meet June 20 in Reims on the final day of preliminary-round play.
Next up for Canada is New Zealand on Saturday, after the Dutch face Cameroon in Valenciennes.
Canada is coming off a 1-0 win Monday over No. 46 Cameroon with a Kadeisha Buchanan header the lone breach in a stubborn African defence.
WATCH | Buchanan reflects on team’s 1-0 victory:
“The first game, there’s so many emotions, just so much excitement and buildup,” said Canadian defender Shelina Zadorsky. “I think to come away with the win was imperative for us. It wasn’t perfect and we knew it wouldn’t be, but we weathered the storms.”
Canada coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller said Tuesday he felt better after reviewing the Cameroon game. His conclusion was Canada got into good positions, only to fall short on the final pass. The Canadians also were also overly intricate.
“It’s also about shooting once in a while because we have the players who can do that,” he said.
The Canadians left Montpellier on Tuesday afternoon, travelling the 295 kilometres northeast to Grenoble by bus. They were greeted by mist and rain in the town nestled at the foot of the French Alps and known as the capital of the Alps.
New Zealand can be forgiven if it arrived at the tournament with a chip on its shoulder. A team preview in Deadspin called the Football Ferns “the cockroaches of women’s international soccer — they’re always around.”
With Australia now in the Asian Football Confederation, New Zealand has bossed its confederation — “limp-ass Oceania,” according to Deadspin. The team went 5-0-0 in World Cup qualifying, outscoring the likes of Fiji, Tonga, the Cook Islands and New Caledonia 43-0 late last year.
Prior to the 2015 tournament, it outscored the opposition 30-0 in winning three qualifying games.
Strength of qualifying opposition aside, Zadorsky expects New Zealand to be well-drilled.
“They’ll be strong defensively,” said the centre back, who also played for Sermanni at the NWSL’s Orlando Pride. “They’ll be more organized than Cameroon. We’re going to have to break them down successfully. They also have a solid counter-attack and people who can put away goals.”