clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Canada Look to Gain Confidence Against the Kiwis

New, 5 comments

The second game of the tournament will likely be the least consequential for Canada, but is still important in terms of their overall campaign.

Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday Christine Sinclair once again stole headlines across the country with an injury time penalty that gave Canada a dramatic 1-0 victory over China to open the World Cup on home soil.

Up until that point, however, the headlines would have been much different. Even though Sinclair hit the delete button for columnists and news writers across the world some of the discarded headline's sentiment remains.

It reads like this "Canada fail to break down Chinese defense in World Cup opener". What was post game jubilation on Saturday would be a lot of soul searching surrounding this team.

This wouldn't be just because of the result, it would be how the result played out. The Chinese gave Canada exactly what they could have wanted: a full on invitation to attack as the Asian side played for a draw.

It's doubtful that Canada's second opponent, New Zealand, will be the same. The Kiwis have proven they can score and play with a more attacking mentality which is likely a byproduct of consistently playing such poor opponents in the OFC.

This will likely create more holes, something Canada rarely found, or could pry open, against China's strong defense.

New Zealand is also likely Canada's easiest opponent of the Group Stage. John Herdman's former side are still looking for their first even victory at a World Cup event having qualified for the last two and the inaugural 1991 tournament.

They aren't to be taken too lightly, however, as has been proven with anything that Herdman leaves his fingerprints on. The Kiwi program has flourished as of late, getting their first World Cup points in a draw at the 2011 tournament before making a surprise appearance in the quarterfinals of the Olympics a year later.

The team also has some fairly good attacking options. Amber Hearn is the "Christine Sinclair" of the New Zealand program as the 30-year-old striker holds the national record for goals with 45.

She and University of Tennessee forward Hannah Wilkinson are the danger women while captain Abby Erceg of the NWSL's Chicago Red Stars is the leader at the back.

New Zealand showed well in their first game of the tournament, a 1-0 loss against a Netherlands team that many are considering to be a bit of a darkhorse considering the talent their roster holds.

For Canada, a win against New Zealand would mean automatic qualification for the knockout rounds with the final game against the Netherlands determining their position in the group. That should be more than enough incentive to get a strong performance out of the red and white.

If all goes to plan, the New Zealand match could serve as an important confidence boost for the Canadian team after a self-described nervy start. The more goals they can score the better they will be served in terms of building some offensive momentum.

The backline will likely be hounded more than they were in the China match, so that too will be a healthy test for this Canadian team. The defending was questionable bordering on shambolic at times in the first game when it really didn't need to be.

Game two of Canada 2015 will likely tell us the least of any about the host nation, but its importance still needs to be underlined in terms of building confidence going forward.

The team will be looking to write a headline early, and build on its positivity throughout the match, instead of forcing another last minute re-write.