Olympics: Preview Notes – Canada (Group F)

THE ONLY WAY TO GO IS UP — After a dismal performance at the 2011 Women’s World Cup where they finished statistically dead last, Canada is hoping to reverse their fortunes this year by finding their way to the medal podium in London.

  • How They Qualified: Top 2 finish in CONCACAF qualifying tournament (2nd place)
  • FIFA Rank: #7
  • Previous Olympics: 2008 (quarterfinals)
  • 2011 WWC Performance: Group Stage
  • Key Players: Christine Sinclair (forward), Diana Matheson (midfielder), Karina LeBlanc (goalkeeper)
  • Head Coach: John Herdman (England)
  • Team Captain: Christine Sinclair
  • Recent Form: L, W, W, L, W
  • Group Finish Probabilities: 1st, 10%; 2nd, 20%; 3rd, 50%; 4th, 20%
  • Medal Chances: Slim

RECENT MATCHES — Based on rankings, Canada has won the tune-up matches it should win, and, well, lost the matches it’s not suppose to win. In late May, they defeated China 1:0, but it took a stoppage time goal by Sinclair to turn a draw into a victory. Then, Canada lost to the USA 1:2 at the end of June. In July, Canada played Colombia and New Zealand, winning 1:0 and 2:0, respectively. Canada’s final tune-up was against Brazil, which went from a lost to a draw back to a lost in under two minutes during second half stoppage time. That match ended 2:1 in the South Americans’ favor.

GROUP CHANCES — Canada’s middle match against South Africa is a should win that is also a must win for Canada to have a fair chance at making the quarterfinals. But, to raise their odds of advancement, Canada will also need to at least draw from their other two matches, with that seeming more possible against an injury-weakened Sweden in the final group match then against the reigning World Champions in the opener.

INJURIES — Diana Matheson had knee surgery back in November and missed Canada’s qualifying campaign in January and its Spring friendlies against Brazil and Sweden, but now appears to be fully fit, having started in all known friendly line-ups since late May… Veteran ‘keeper Karina LeBlanc had an ankle injury in mid-May (www.thestar.com) which kept her out of the line-up until the mid-July tune-ups… Midfielder Kelly Parker is coming back from meniscus surgery (blogs.theprovince.com).

PROBABLE STARTERS — In the tune-ups, Herdman has varied his line-ups, in part due to injuries, so pinning down a solid group of starters is a bit of a challenge.  The least certain positions include Sinclair’s strike partner, centerback and wide midfielder.

Concerning Sinclair’s strike partner,  in the final two friendlies, Melissa Tancredi has been Sinclair’s strike partner, although against China and the USA, Brittany Timko got the nod. And, against Colombia, both started.

At centerback, Carmelina Moscato and Candace Chapman have gotten most of the recent starts, although Emily Zurrer also has a couple. So, reasonably any combination from those three is possible.

With those caveats and notes, the probable starting line-up (4-4-2):

LeBlanc (GK)
Wilkinson (RB) — Moscato (CB) — Chapman (CB) — Sesselmann (LB)
Kyle (WM) — Schmidt (AM) — Scott (HM) — Matheson (WM)
Sinclair (FW) — Tancredi (FW)

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See Also: All posts on Canada

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