Cana­di­ans seeded fifth head­ing into Women’s World Cup

Team will learn first round foes at Satur­day’s draw

The Welland Tribune - - Sports - NEIL DAVIDSON

Canada coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller learns his team’s road map at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup on Satur­day at the tour­na­ment draw in Paris.

Heiner-Moller will carry the Cana­dian colours at the draw along with Ash­ley Lawrence, who plays her club soc­cer for Paris Saint-Ger­main. The World Cup, which un­like the 2015 tour­na­ment in Canada will be played on grass, runs

June 7 to July 7 in nine French cities.

Mia Hamm, Di­dier Deschamps, Kaka, St­effi Jones, Michael Essien, Alex Scott, Aya Miyama, Louis Saha and Carli Lloyd are among the stars who will take part in the draw at La Seine Musicale arts cen­tre. Four years ago, the draw was held at the Cana­dian Mu­seum of His­tory in Gatineau, Que.

The four pots for the draw were al­lo­cated based on world rank­ings re­leased Fri­day.

“It’s good we’re fi­nally in Pot 1,” Heiner-Moller said with a chuckle prior to jump­ing on a plane to Paris.

The Cana­di­ans earned that elite sta­tus this time. Canada was ranked eighth in the world go­ing into the 2015 tour­na­ment but was slot­ted into Pot 1 for the draw as host coun­try.

The Cana­dian women, cur­rently ranked fifth, join the top-ranked and de­fend­ing cham­pion Amer­i­cans in Pot 1 along with No. 2 Ger­many, No. 3 France No. 4 Eng­land and No. 6 Aus­tralia. Those teams will avoid each other in the open­ing group phase.

For Heiner-Moller, the only cer­tainty is that his team won’t be drawn with Ja­maica, which is also in CONCACAF. Teams from the same con­fed­er­a­tion can’t be placed in the same group, with the ex­cep­tion of Europe, which has nine en­tries in the 24-coun­try field.

And that’s not a plus given the Reg­gae Girlz, at No 53, are in Pot 4 as the low­es­tranked team in the field. Canada is 7-0-0 all-time against the Ja­maicans, outscor­ing them 48-1, al­though the most re­cent meet­ing — in Oc­to­ber at the CONCACAF qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment — was only a 2-0 vic­tory.

The Women’s World Cup has a gen­er­ous struc­ture with the win­ners and run­ners-up from each of the six groups, as well as the best four third-placed teams, ad­vanc­ing to the knock­out round,

Pot 2 is strong with the sev­enth-ranked Nether­lands, No. 8 Ja­pan, No. 9 Swe­den, No. 10 Brazil, No. 12 Spain and No. 13 Nor­way. Ja­pan made the fi­nal in 2015, los­ing 5-3 to the U.S. be­fore a crowd in ex­cess of 53,000 at B.C. Place Sta­dium in Van­cou­ver.

“We know all these teams,” said Heiner-Moller. “We have a good record against all these teams.”

Canada beat Brazil, Ja­pan, the Nether­lands and Nor­way last time out, split its last two matches with Swe­den and lost to Spain.

Satur­day’s draw al­lows the Canada coach to plan his pre-tour­na­ment sched­ule, which likely will in­volve teams sim­i­lar in style to his first-round op­po­nents. There are four FIFA in­ter­na­tional breaks be­fore the tour­na­ment, and Heiner-Moller plans to use all of them, in­clud­ing a re­turn to the Al­garve Cup in Por­tu­gal.

In 2015, Canada was drawn along­side China, the Nether­lands and New Zealand.

The host coun­try fin­ished atop its pool af­ter beat­ing China 1-0 — on a 92nd­minute Chris­tine Sin­clair penalty — and ty­ing New Zealand 0-0 and the Nether­lands 1-1.

The Cana­di­ans went on to edge Switzer­land 1-0 in the round of 16 be­fore los­ing 2-1 to Eng­land in the quar­ter-fi­nals.

Chile, Ja­maica, Scot­land and South Africa are mak­ing their first World Cup ap­pear­ance.

Brazil, Ger­many, Ja­pan, Nige­ria, Nor­way, Swe­den and the U.S. have taken part in ev­ery World Cup since the tour­na­ment’s in­cep­tion in 1991. Canada failed to qual­ify for the first tour­na­ment, which fea­tured just 12 teams with the U.S. as the lone CONCACAF rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

The Cana­dian women are 8-4-0 this year, with losses to the U.S., Ger­many, France and Swe­den.

Heiner-Moller will take 23 play­ers to the World Cup.

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