Canada meet Eng­land, Ja­pan face Aussies at Cup


The Women’s World Cup heats up this week­end with Aus­tralia chal­leng­ing hold­ers Ja­pan and hosts Canada up against Eng­land in the quar­ter-fi­nals.

The re­run of last year’s Asian Cup fi­nal at Ed­mon­ton’s Com­mon­wealth Sta­dium will see tem­per­a­tures of 31 de­grees Cel­sius, with the heat at ground level set to swell closer to 50 de­grees Cel­sius due to the syn­thetic play­ing sur­face.

Canada will then go head-to­head with Eng­land in Van­cou­ver’s BC Sta­dium later Satur­day, where west coast tem­per­a­tures are also soar­ing.

But Aus­tralia coach Alen Sta­j­cic be­lieves his young side, ranked 10th, can cool the spir­its of fourthranked Ja­pan, a team the Matil­das have played of­ten.

“We played Ja­pan twice in the Asian Cup and we fought back to 2-2 in the first game,” he said. “They played us in the fi­nal and they man­aged to beat us 1-0 on a set piece.

“We’ve got a big as­sign­ment on our hands. We’re up against a very good team, but we’ve been very dan­ger­ous as well in this tour­na­ment and there’s no rea­son why we can’t be dan­ger­ous again against Ja­pan.

“We’ve evolved greatly on and off the field. We’ll be a new propo­si­tion for Ja­pan. It’s go­ing to be hot, 31 pre­dicted, which will be a chal­lenge for both teams.

“I’m con­fi­dent we can beat them but it’s go­ing to be an ex­tremely tough match.”

No­rio Sasaki’s Ja­pan have won all their games so far — an un­matched feat for the re­main­ing teams.

“We’re used to play­ing Aus­tralia,” said Sasaki. “But Aus­tralia now is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent team, they have im­proved a lot and are tech­ni­cally su­pe­rior.”

‘It’s close’

Olympic bronze

medal­ists’ Canada, ranked eighth, face six­thranked Eng­land, which beat them 1-0 in this year’s Cyprus Cup fi­nal but who lost to the hosts in a pre­tour­na­ment friendly.

“It’s go­ing to be a good game. Ev­ery time we play them it’s close,” said Canada cap­tain Chris­tine Sin­clair, who has to be care­ful not to pick up a sec­ond yel­low card, which would ban her from Canada’s next match.

“I don’t con­sider my­self as a dirty or phys­i­cal player. You just have to play a lit­tle smart.”

Sin­clair scored three goals on Canada’s way to their best World Cup fin­ish of fourth place in 2003, which was her first ma­jor tour­na­ment.

“I was a kid and thought it was easy to make the semi-fi­nal. Now I know it’s not easy,” said the 32-year-old.

Canada’s English coach, John Herdman, said that com­pet­ing in the World Cup par­tic­u­larly at home was a “once in a life­time op­por­tu­nity.”

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