Canada emerges from group stage

For the third FIFA tournament in a row, Canada’s women’s football team has finished the group stage with a 1-1-1 record – one win, one draw and one loss. Five years ago at the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003, Canada’s win in its final group match was the difference in pushing the team through to the quarter-final stage. A win over favoured China later, Canada was en route to a best-ever fourth-place finish at a senior event. Last year at China 2007, a draw in the last group match was not enough to see Canada through to the quarter-final stage. That time, ninth place was the best that Canada could do.

For the third FIFA tournament in a row, Canada’s women’s football team has finished the group stage with a 1-1-1 record – one win, one draw and one loss. Five years ago at the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003, Canada’s win in its final group match was the difference in pushing the team through to the quarter-final stage. A win over favoured China later, Canada was en route to a best-ever fourth-place finish at a senior event.
Last year at China 2007, a draw in the last group match was not enough to see Canada through to the quarter-final stage. That time, ninth place was the best that Canada could do.
This year at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in China, Canada has again reached the quarter-final stage. Canada will face the United States in one of four quarter-final matches on Friday 15 August (06.00 ET / 03.00 PT). On the line is a semi-final date with either China or Japan on 18 August – not to mention the promise of a top-four finish.
The United States was most recently ranked first in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Rankings. Five years ago at USA 2003, it was a much better American team that won 3:1 over Canada in the match for third place. It was USA’s fourth-straight top-three finish at the FIFA Women’s World Cup (held every four years).
The United States’ big gap, however, has diminished in recent years. As such, Canada (ranked 9th) is entering the quarter-final stage at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament with plenty of confidence.
“We have played the Americans so many times,” says captain Christine Sinclair. “We are expecting a very close game as it is a huge rivalry for both of us.”
Canada has indeed faced the United States many times – 43 times including four contests earlier this year. To date, Canada has a meager record of three wins, four draws and 36 losses against the United States. Of promise, however, are two strong performances against USA in big matches within the last six months.
On 12 April, Canada pulled off a 1:1 draw with the United States at the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Football Tournament final. It took USA 108 minutes before Carli Lloyd scored on a free kick after a Canadian caution. Canada came back shortly thereafter, though, as Melissa Tancredi scored after a Canadian corner kick. Only in the post-match penalties did Canada concede the championship trophy.
On 21 June, Canada nearly had the United States’ number once again. This time, it took 92 minutes before either side found the back of the net in the Peace Queen Cup final. It was American Angela Hucles who scored the winner.
Canada knows it has been close and it knows it has what it takes to beat the Americans. When the whistle blows come Friday, fans can expect an all-out battle as the two CONCACAF nations put it all on the line for a semi-final ticket.

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