“Canada officially eliminated from the Women’s World Cup.” The stunning headline and how our women left the great tourney were astounding.
Canada vs. France was an attractive affair when the groups were picked. World # 6 vs. world # 7 and both sides were on form entering the World Cup. The match started with mass hype and the absolute flogging of the dead horse question, “would our captain play”?
As match day closed in on kick off, my 8 year old son asked, “Is she going to play dad”? As the camera panned around the stadium and finally down the player’s tunnel, my son had his answer and so did Canada. Christine Sinclair donned the protective mask and her captains arm band seemed to shine brighter. “She’s Batman my 5 year old son chimed in”. My 8 year old had the look of admiration in his eyes and he had another role model in his life. Brilliant…
The match was even for the first 20 minutes and our girls looked very nervous. Canada reverted to its old style of soccer. We kicked the ball long and hoped. We kicked the ball into the sky and hoped we could recover the ball; we never looked comfortable on the ball or attacking. Then France began to win all the 1 v 1 battles and we were being overrun in the midfield. France’s breakthrough came in the 24th minute and it was a lucky bounce. A deflected shot that popped in the air. And Timko caught ball watching could only look on as Thiney headed home for a 1 nil lead. The goal was lucky but the build up for the initial shot was very good and Canada could only scramble to charge down the shot.
Canada was on the back foot from then on.
We never recovered and McLeod’s brilliant save at the 30 minute mark kept Canada close. The next 15 minutes to half was an attacking practice and Canada kicked the ball all over the park. France did not believe the Canadians could manage high pressure and small ball (short, precise passing with a ton of player movement). France pressed and Canada was on the verge of collapse.
Aaaaaah Phew!!!! HALFTIME, reorganize and settle down.
The second half began and Canada had the same shape, players and system. I was puzzled and questioned the lack of tactical change or personnel change. France could taste blood in the water and they closed down players and passing angles as if they were mind reading. Canada kicked it long and France retrieved the ball and attacked.
At the 60th minute Canadian defender Zurrer miss kicked a clearance and a wonder strike from Thiney from distance, glanced off the far post and in. McLeod’s valiant dive was short and France enjoyed a 2 nil advantage. Just 6 minutes later, off a corner, Canadian midfielder Scott (smallest player on the field) could not mark the taller more physical Abily. A powerful header and Canadian hopes for the Cup are dashed.
Canada still tried hard for at least a consolation goal but France was technically superior and Canadians were made to pay physically when facing a 1 v 1 test. Thumping tackles, terrific shape in their backline and control in the midfield. When Canadians thought that France was done, a long ball over the top of the Canadian flat backline and Thomis rounded McLeod for goal number 4. So after 83 minutes of football it was 4-0 France.
Shock, disbelief and the dream was over. Eighty-three minutes is all it took for France to take Canada apart. Our beloved side was a no show in the biggest match of their careers. Who is to blame?
No one. On this day Canada was simply outplayed at every position including coaching staff. It was France’s day my soccer friends. My sons were upset; a nation was reeling and our women in pain. ELIMINATED
So the media, analysts and soccer fans beat this result to death. How, what, could have, should have, why this or why that and but. No soccer fans STOP.
Jason De Vos summed things up brilliantly. We, as a nation, must bring the skill and technical abilities of our grass roots players up to the world level. Thank you Jason for reinforcing what this coach has been trying to do with our soccer academy. Skills, skills and skills, treat players as players rather than little kids who want to play the beautiful game. We are stuck on game play and our players are suffering for it. Our elite programs are suffering because we are lacking at the grass roots level. We put the heavy kid in goal or the fast kid up front or “my kid plays no matter what because I’m the coach”. Here’s my favorite one. We, as parents, explain to our U5 or U6 no hands unless it’s a throw in or if you’re a keeper (does this sound familiar) only to arrive at the first session and the coach is running a cone relay with the ball in a players hands. Poor confused player.
Congratulations Team Canada – Remember ladies, you were 1 of 16 teams to qualify for the World Cup. Pick your heads up and Olympic qualifying starts soon enough.
Hats off to Bolivia for tying Messi led Argentina in the opening match of the Copa America. Wonderful soccer on display in both tournaments.
Knock out stage of the Women’s World Cup will be brilliant. The cream is rising and the football attractive. Should be stunning.
Play 4 Ever
Al Fernandes is a coach, father and footballer. He is the Director of the Al Fernandes Soccer Academy in Lethbridge