U-20 Women's World Cup: Canada getting ready for Germans
Canadians the underdogs against impresive German side
John Wooden, the highly successful former coach of the UCLA Bruins basketball team, once said, "Little things make the big things happen."
Canada's team at the women's under-20 World Cup channelled those words last week after a rough start at the tournament. The hosts opened with a loss and were on the verge of elimination after giving up two goals in the first half of their next game against France.
The "little thing" that helped them was the vocal support of the team's substitute players. It became a motivator that sparked the squad to a 3-2 comeback victory over Finland and then a 1-0 win over North Korea that moved Canada into Saturday's quarter-final against Germany at Commonwealth Stadium.
Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan said she's never been on a team that's been so supportive, adding it was a big help at halftime of the France game.
"Each individual player was like, 'You have had a strong game. You may not feel like it but you still have 45 minutes, the opportunity, go out there and prove it,"' she said. "So we got that message and went out there and capitalized on opportunities."
Now the Canadians have an opportunity to advance to the semifinal. To get there they'll have to contain a surprisingly offensive German team that has scored 12 goals in its three wins.
"We know we're facing a tough team, one of the best in the world so it's going to be a real challenging game," said defender Kylie Davis. "They have had a lot of goals. They've always been known to put away their chances and they've been doing a good job of that. But we put in the work to be ready for it."
The favoured German team is clinical and creative, talented and technical, fast and functional.
"They're very diverse," said Sheridan. "They've very strong athletically and they have a lot of technical skills. But they are also very fast so we have to be ready for all kinds of attacks."
However, the Canadians are quick to point out the Germans have given up six goals in three games, although five of those came in a surprising 5-5 tie with China.
"If you're going to look at the goals for, you should look at the goals against also," said Davis. "They're a good team and definitely clinical if you look at their goals for but we've done a lot of work too and score some pretty nice goals.
"So hopefully the gates have opened and the flood is coming."
An offensive shootout is not expected. Other than those five goals by China, Germany surrendered one goal in its two other victories while Canada has given up three goals in its three games.
The Canadians are confident they have the game plan to deal with the German offence.
"We have our tactics and our staff does a real good job of providing us tools from the game footage," said Davis. "And we put a lot of work in reviewing that and putting it on the field so we're just going to go with the plan."
Davis and Sheridan both said one of the keys for Canada is the team's transition game. They hope to keep it fast and effective to make the German attackers hesitate just enough to work to Canada's advantage.
"It will be very, very important," Davis said. "We're going to have be very focused and in the right places at the right time."