Canadian women’s soccer coach sees positives in Asian trips
Two trips to Asia produced 4-0 defeats for the Canadian women’s soccer team, against Japan and Brazil.
But both times, the seventhranked Canadians responded the next time out — tying Japan 0-0 in a closed-door game and blanking New Zealand 3-0.
“Even though I will never be comfortable ... losing 4-0, like never. No matter who we put on the pitch, that shouldn’t be happening,” Canada’s coach, Kenneth Heiner-Moller, said from his native Denmark.
“But I saw some of the players I hadn’t seen in a while on the pitch playing for Canada. That was a great learning and insight into who is where, who is ready, who needs some more time.
“And both the match against Brazil and the match against New Zealand gave me some very interesting answers.”
Still, the 4-0 losses marked the most goals conceded by the Canadian women since the infamous 4-3 extra-time defeat to the U.S. in the 2012 Olympic semifinal — a stretch of more than 100 matches.
Heiner-Moller fielded a more experimental lineup against Brazil in Canada’s opener Nov. 7 at the China Four Nations Tournament in Yongchuan. Goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo, Lindsay Agnew, Shannon Woeller, Gabrielle Carle and Adriana Leon got their first starts of the year, with Deanne Rose given her second start.
Olivia Smith came off the bench, becoming Canada’s youngest women’s senior player at 15 years, three months.
Maegan Kelly made her first ap- pearances of the year, while Ni- chelle Prince returned to action from injury.
Heiner-Moller liked what he saw in Smith, who came off the bench in the 83rd and 86th minutes, respectively, in China.
“She can do so much already ... She can already perform at a level that’s beyond what you could think a kid her age could actually do. So it’s about taking very very good care of her, but also pushing her. In the world of sports, you can find so many very very good players at the age of 14, 15 that didn’t make it because either they took it too lightly or had bad advice or whatever,” Heiner-Moller said.
“But I can tell you she wasn’t given any internationals. In this camp she earned both of them. And if you can earn them by the time you’re 15, you’ve got, hopefully, a pretty good future ahead of you.”
In the win over New Zealand, captain Christine Sinclair scored career goal No. 183, heading in an Ashley Lawrence cross after a pretty passing sequence.
Sinclair is now one goal from tying retired American Abby Wambach’s world record.
Heiner-Moller will be in England on Sunday to watch Janine Beckie and Manchester City host Leon and West Ham United in Barclays FA Women’s Super League play.
On Saturday, he will monitor Kadeisha Buchanan and Lyon against Lawrence and Jordyn Huitema of Paris Saint-Germain in French league play.
“A clash of the Canadians around the world,” said Heiner Moller.
Canada’s next challenge is the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic qualifying tournament, which runs Jan. 28 to Feb. 9 in Texas and California.
Coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller found positives at a women's soccer tournament in China, seeing his Canadian team respond with a 3-0 win over New Zealand after a 4-0 loss to Brazil.