A superior Canadian side entered the 2015 Women’s World Cup on home turf with what should have been an easy match against a Chinese team that entered the World Cup on a ten-game winless streak fielding a team with no World Cup experience. There was a near capacity crowd of 53,058 in Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, the largest crowd in Canadian soccer history. The girls were confident coming off a 1-0 win in a tune-up match against England on May 29th. There was no way the Canadians wouldn’t handily defeat the inferior Chinese side.
Despite the fact almost everything was in favour of the Canadian team, it took until the 92nd minute for the Canadians to finally take the lead.
The Chinese managed to snuff out the Canadian attacks with a strong defence that was difficult for the red and white to penetrate. If it were not for a foul on Adriana Leon in the box deep into second half stoppage time, the game would have ended in a boring 0-0 draw.
Of course, when Captain Canada herself, Christian Sinclair, stepped up and calmly slotted the penalty behind the Chinese keeper, the Canadian crowd erupted. Sinclair’s late penalty was all the Canadians needed to win the first match of the 2015 World Cup.
The lucky win to start the tournament off on a good note for the Canadians already puts Canada ahead of their results from 2011. In 2011, after being drawn into a difficult group featuring Germany, France, and Nigeria, Canada only scored one goal and lost all three matches en route to finishing dead last. Canada is already guaranteed a better finish only one game into the Cup.
Additionally, with an increased number of teams in the 2015 edition of the World Cup and the introduction of a Round of 16, Canada’s chances of qualifying for the knockout round are already high. FIFA also introduced a qualification for the four best teams who finished third in their groups, a position Canada is all but guaranteed to qualify for if they are unable to finish in the top two in the group.
Although the Canadian girls would have been happier with a more dominant win, they still were able to walk away from Commonwealth Stadium with the full three points, and co-leadership in Group A alongside the Netherlands.
Canadian head coach John Herdman was pleased with the win stating, “Good start for Canada, three points in the bag, exactly where we want to be. I think it was a good start to the tournament for Canada, we doubled the possession on China, outshot them, and only five years ago Canada would have been defending in a deep block against the Chinese who were arguably some of the best tacticians in the world.”
Canada looks to continue their successful start to the World Cup on Thursday, June 11th as they take on New Zealand at 7 P.M. local time (9 P.M. in the East, 6 P.M. in the West) at Commonwealth Stadium. Canada should be able to defeat the ‘Football Ferns’ who are ranked 17th in the world easily, but as proven by the Chinese game, the Canadians may find another unexpected challenge.
Group A Standings