Women’s World Cup: Holders Japan, hosts Canada take on Australia, England

The sides have faced off against each other several times in recent years.

Afp June 27, 2015
Japanese players run through some drills during their training session in Edmonton, Canada. PHOTO: AFP

VANCOUVER: 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-to-head with England in Vancouver’s BC Stadium, where west coast temperatures are also soaring.

But Australia coach Alen Stajcic believes his young side, ranked 10th, can beat fourth-ranked 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 managed to beat us 1-0 on a set piece. We’re up against a very good team, but we’ve been very dangerous as well in this tournament. I’m confident we can beat them but it’s going to be an extremely tough match.”

Norio Sasaki’s Japan are the only team with a hundred per cent record in the tournament so far. “We’re used to playing Australia,” said Sasaki. “But Australia are a completely different team now; they have improved a lot and are technically superior.”

Olympic bronze medallists Canada also face familiar foes in England. England beat Canada 1-0 in this year’s Cyprus Cup final but lost to the hosts in a pre-tournament friendly.

“It’s going to be a good game. Every time we play them it’s close,” said Canada captain Christine Sinclair.

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.

Meanwhile, England’s Fara Williams said they would be counting on team spirit to pull them through after achieving their first win in a World Cup knockout round against 1995 champions Norway. “It’s such a nice thing to have all 23 people together and behind each other,” said the 144-time capped midfielder. “It just shows what great shape we’re in. The spirit is fantastic.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th,  2015.

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