Soccer

Canadian women's team set for France, England friendlies

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The Canadian Press
3/27/2013 5:39:06 PM
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Coach John Herdman doesn't want the Canadian women's soccer team to lose its Olympic swagger heading its first exhibition contest against France since last year's London Summer Games.

Canada faces France on April 4 in Nice for the first time since its 1-0 win over the French last summer to capture an Olympic bronze medal. The victory was historic as it secured Canada its first Olympic medal in a traditional team sport since 1936.

"The girls know this is going to be tough going into France on French soil after what happened at the Olympics," Herdman said during a conference call. "But at the same time, this is a team that beat the French only eight months ago so I wouldn't say anyone is too scared about it.

"At the same time as a team we want to protect the mindset we've worked so hard to establish. When you win a bronze medal, there's a little bit of fear that goes out to the teams you play against, 'Hey, this is a team to be reckoned with.' We want to keep that."

Three days after facing France, the Canadians will take on England in another exhibition game at Rotherham. Canada suffered a heart-breaking 1-0 loss to the English in the Cyprus Cup final March 13.

Herdman will take an experienced lineup headlined by star striker Christine Sinclair overseas for the two games. Canada's roster against France will feature 14 players who were in London and 17 that participated in the Cyprus Cup.

"The team is experienced," Herdman said. "You've got to take an experienced team into this group.

"But it also gives you a bit of an insight into the future as well with some of those younger players I've had a chance to look at . . . I'm starting to narrow that down to a smaller group I'm prepared to invest in when we go into these big games against France, who aren't going to take any prisoners. These next two games are going to be a real eye-opener."

The Canadians have a winning record against both France and England since 1995. They've recorded four wins, three losses and two ties against the French while amassing four wins and two losses in six matches versus the English.

Herdman will have an eye on development in the games as he points the Canadian team to its next big event, the 2015 women's World Cup.

"We will be facing two teams that are Euro contenders while we are two years away from our next big competition," he said. "We need to look at these matches as opportunities for us to develop and prepare players for the type of performance we require to be successful in 2015-2016."

Herdman said the Canadian squad is currently working on implementing a new formation and his players are attempting to develop chemistry and cohesiveness.

"If we're going to move away from traditional counter-attack style of football that's served Canada so well and move into a different philosophy then we've got to be prepared to take a couple of steps back," he said. "The girls are learning a new formation and with that all the movement patterns just trying to build that chemistry."

However, at the same time the Canadian team must be prepared to face the best from its opponents, who are eager to earn their stripes against the Olympic bronze medallist.

"We saw that against the English," Herdman said. "They struggled against two teams (at Cyprus Cup).

"But when we played them in the final, they brought a different intensity and tempo to the game. I think that was an eye-opener."

However, Herdman said England was very deserving of the Cyprus Cup victory.

"The final against England, we improved on a couple of stats but they were a better team," he said. "I think that's where we're at at this stage."

Christine Sinclair (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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