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Canada 2015: Hosts draw New Zealand, China and the Netherlands

The draw for Canada 2015 took place today, as the host nation will headline Group A with New Zealand, China and the Netherlands.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The structure for Canada 2015 has been set, and now all that remains to be seen is how it will all play out on the field when the tournament kicks off on June 6, the day Canada will play China in Edmonton. On top of China, Canada will play New Zealand and the Netherlands in a Group A that will be challenging but is ultimately favourable. Canada avoided either Sweden or Norway who both would have made qualifying for the knockout stages substantially more difficult.

As aforementioned, Canada will kick off the tournament against China on June 6 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. On June 11 they will remain in Edmonton for a match against New Zealand. The final match of the group stage will come on June 15 at Montreal's Olympic Stadium against the Netherlands.

Perhaps the most interesting draw for Canada, and certainly the one that will grace the headlines, is New Zealand. John Herdman's native land, and the team he used to manage, should present a good test for Canada. New Zealand have made strong strides in the women's game as of late, and are currently ranked 19th in the world after winning the Oceanic championship.

Canada's second draw will be their most difficult, as the Chinese have always given Canada problems when the two have met in international play. China is currently ranked 14th in the World. They qualified for the tournament by finishing third place in the AFC Women's Asian Cup. This is no easy task as quality sides like Japan, Australia, and Korea Republic were all in the tournament. They did catch a break, however, as Korea DPR were banned as a result of doping sanctions imposed after the 2011 World Cup.

The final member of Group A is the Netherlands, a country which has a good reputation in international soccer. It doesn't really translate to the women's game, however. This is the first Women's World Cup for the Netherlands and on paper they are Canada's easiest opponent. However, they are certainly making strides after winning the playoff round of UEFA qualifying. This feat has them ranked as the 15th team in the world.

Assuming Canada get out of the group is definitely premature, as they failed to do so in 2011. That group, however, was significantly more difficult than the one Canada drew today. Unless they undergo an extreme slip up one can be fairly confident that Canada will be playing in the knockout rounds of the tournament.

Today also revealed a likely estimation of who they will meet should their tournament extend beyond the group stages. Should Canada finish first in their group they will likely play either Australia or South Korea in the Round of 16. That match would take place in Vancouver. If they finish second, it is likely that they would play Switzerland in Ottawa.

The probable first meeting between Canada and the USA, a massive narrative should it take place, would likely come in the Semi-Finals. In order to reach that stage Canada would have to beat Japan, something they have struggled to do even in top form.

As for the remainder of the groups in the tournament, they are all listed below. The group of death is undoubtedly Group D, which featured the United States, Australia, Nigeria and Sweden. All four of these teams have shown well in the past at international tournaments, and all could conceivably advance.

Group A:

1.       Canada

2.       China PR

3.       New Zealand

4.       Netherlands

Group B:

1.       Germany

2.       Ivory Coast

3.       Norway

4.       Thailand

Group C:

1.       Japan

2.       Switzerland

3.       Cameroon

4.       Ecuador

Group D:

1.       United States

2.       Australia

3.       Sweden

4.       Nigeria

Group E:

1.       Brazil

2.       South Korea

3.       Spain

4.       Costa Rica

Group F:

1.       France

2.       England

3.       Colombia

4.       Mexico