FIFA Women's World Cup: 3 things to know for Canada vs. New Zealand

When Canada and New Zealand meet on Thursday night in a FIFA Women's World Cup Group A match at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium, it will be the first time in well over a decade that the sides have faced each other in a competitive setting.

More on the line than usual in Group A matchup

Canadian captain Christine Sinclair looks to lead her team to its second straight win to open the Women's World Cup. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

When Canada (1-0-0) and New Zealand (0-0-1) meet on Thursday night in a FIFA Women's World Cup Group A match at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium (9 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. MT), it will be the first time in well over a decade that the sides have faced each other in a competitive setting.

Here are three things to know to get you ready for a game that Canada's coach John Herdman says his team should win.

All statistics courtesy of Infostrada Sports

Can they still be friends?

The two sides haven't played a competitive match against each other since the Pacific Cup in 2000. The result was a 2-1 victory for Canada.

Since then, they have kept up acquaintances in seven exhibition matches, known as friendlies.

In nine total games (seven friendlies, two competitive), Canada has had the upper hand with six wins, two draws, and just one loss. Furthermore, Canada has outscored New Zealand by a wide 17-4 margin.   

New Zealand's only triumph over Canada was at the World Invitational Tournament in 1987.

But even though it has been 15 years since these teams last played a truly meaningful game, there appears to be a rivalry brewing right before our eyes. 

Most notably, it was coach Herdman who guided New Zealand to its first ever point in World Cup action in 2011.

Herdman told reporters on Wednesday that he believes Canada is undoubtedly a better team than New Zealand. 

Clearly there will be no lack of motivation for either team. 

New Zealand looking for 1st World Cup win

Despite making its fourth appearance in the Women's World Cup, New Zealand has yet to win a match. That amounts to a streak of 10 matches and includes just that one draw when Herdman was patrolling the sidelines. 

The Football Ferns, as they are also known, played in the World Cup in 1991, 2007, and 2011.

Not surprisingly, they have never advanced past the group stage. 

New Zealand is also on a current six-game losing streak, last winning a friendly against Denmark in January. 

Canada feeling confident

As far as overall success in the World Cup, Canada has not fared much better, advancing beyond the group stage just once (2003) along the way to a fourth-place finish. On the bright side, Canada has only failed to qualify once, in the tournament's inaugural year of 1991.

With this being Canada's sixth World Cup, it has played more matches than New Zealand. However, Canada's record of five wins, three draws, and 11 losses is less than sparkling.

Of course, Canada isn't exactly a stranger to international success, highlighted (controversy aside) by a bronze medal performance in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Talk since then has been about the women's side bringing a golden age to soccer in Canada.

To that effect, coach Herdman sounds like a coach who thinks this might be the year Canada breaks through.

"Very clearly, we're a better team ... And I think quality for quality, we're a better team than New Zealand.

"If we connect like we did against China for periods and we improve on some things and we live the game plan, Canada should win this game.

"I said this right from the onset, we should win this group."

With files from The Canadian Press


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