Canada just about pulled off a last-ditch victory in their opening game of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup against China when captain Christine Sinclair scored a stoppage time penalty to lead the host nation to three points.
The Canadians are now prepping to face off against head coach John Herdman’s former team New Zealand when the two sides meet for their second games of Group A action on Thursday afternoon in Edmonton.
Tony Readings’ side - the assistant coach to Herdman during his time with the Kiwis - dropped their opening game of the tournament to debutants Netherlands as a result of a fantastic goal from Dutch forward Lieke Martens.
Despite China being placed higher in the Women’s FIFA rankings than New Zealand, the Canadians will expect a much sterner test in their next game. The Chinese seemed content to sit back, defend and fight it out for the tie. However, having lost their opening game, New Zealand will be looking to win at all costs.
Readings will look to 30-year-old forward Amber Hearn’s experience to lead the line for her team. Hearn plays for German club FF USV Jena and has 100 appearances for her national side, scoring 45 goals, the record for goals scored for the New Zealand women’s team.
Canada struggled to get a strangle hold of their game against China, failing to breakdown the resilient opposition defence. Experienced players like Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt and Melissa Tancredi will need to lead by example if Canada is to get anything out of this game.
On the defensive end, Herdman will be hoping young teenage centre back Kadeisha Buchanan continues to impress as she slowly becomes a household name amongst the local supporters. Despite being just 19-years of age, Buchanan was arguably Canada’s best player on her World Cup debut. The Toronto, Ontario native looked fearless under the spotlight of the world’s biggest tournament being played on her home soil.
A win for Canada, and their place in the round of 16 is all but booked with six points, only a matter of finishing first or second in the group for better seeding to worry about. A loss for New Zealand and the chances of them making it out of the group are very slim. Expect it to be a physical battle between two teams in which each coach knows one another well.