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Scouting Report: Cagey Canada Make Stalemate Very Likely In High Stakes Game With Ireland

Scouting Report: Cagey Canada Make Stalemate Very Likely In High Stakes Game With Ireland
By Alanna Cunnane Updated
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Ireland face into their second-ever Women’s World Cup game at 1 o’clock Wednesday, taking on a defensively-solid Canada in the in the Perth Rectangular Stadium.

Vera Pauw will be crossing all of her fingers and toes in hope that stalwart defenders and current injury doubts Louise Quinn and Heather Payne will be available to help the Girls In Green out on the occasion, but she isn’t expected to go out to bat for many more changes to the team that played during their 1-0 defeat to Australia last Wednesday.

Billed as more of a must-not-lose as opposed to a must-win game for both sides, whoever edges in front tomorrow will put themselves in pole position for the second spot behind the hosts who are favoured to top Group B.

The numbers game

As the reigning Olympic champions Canada are ranked seventh in the world rankings, although that might be a touch deceiving when it comes to their current form.


Their 2021 gold medal came about through their defensively rigid back line where they scored just two goals during the three knockout games, both of which came from the penalty spot.

With five matches to their name this year before kicking off this tournament, that theme seems to have followed them, racking up just three goals and failing to score in three of those match ups.

They are however very experienced at playing in the biggest tournaments, with their best World Cup run coming in 2003 when they reached the semi-finals.


The now-Beverly Priestman managed outfit have bowed out twice in the group stages of the World Cup though, with Ireland hoping to inflict that same outcome this year.

Canada 0-0 Nigeria

The opposite fixture to Ireland in the first Group B meet, this stalemate may prove to be very decisive to Pauw and co when it comes to progressing to the round of 16.

Should the Irish WNT draw their next two games with these countries and Australia beat the duo, second place could come down to goal difference, casting Ireland's 1-0 defeat last week in a whole new light.


This game itself came down to one pivotal moment in particular, with one of Canada’s most prolific players Cristine Sinclair missing a penalty, or rather Nigeria's Chiamaka Nnadozie saving it.

Another talking point came in final moments of the match when Nigeria's Deborah Abiodun received a red card, after a heavy tackle on Canada's Ashley Lawrence.

Now as Canada prepare for Ireland, Nigeria take on Australia on Thursday at 11am Irish time.



How defensively solid Canada usually set up

Similar to Vera Pauw’s side, Canada pride themselves on that ability to limit the opposition’s opportunity to score, yet they often struggle to break the deadlock in their own right too.

This has left pundits predicting the to be either a hallmark intense cagey 0-0 affair or an open expansive one depending on when or if the first goal is conceded.


 Priestman tends to go for a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 formation, with Jessie Fleming, Julia Grosso and Quinn anchoring the midfield (when they are all fit). Kailen Sheridan is their NWSL shotstopper in net, with Chelsea’s Kadeisha Buchanan and Olympique Lyonnais’ Vanessa Gilles in front of her and WSL wing backs Ashley Lawrence and Jayde Riviere on the flanks.

All-time leading goalscorer Sinclair then is their real taliswoman, although at 40 she rarely plays the full 90 minutes anymore and is assisted by Adriana Leon, Jordyn Huitema and Deanne Rose in attack.

Substitutions are also heavily employed by Priestman. This was witnessed again in the Nigeria game where she made five switches to bring on Sophie Schmidt, Nichelle Prince, Allysha Chapman, Evelyne Viens and Cloé Lacasse, with the latter two in top form for their clubs OL Reign and Benfica.

The return of Fleming

Canada were also happy to learn of the boost of Jessie Fleming’s return from a calf injury after she sat out the last game.

The Chelsea midfielder won the country’s player of the year in 2021 and 2022 and is a vital cog in their machine when fit.

Speaking at the matchday -1 press conference Priestman spoke of how she trained fully on Monday and that they expect her to be available.

With 115 caps and numerous WSL titles to her name, she poses a threat Pauw’s side would have loved not to have had to fret about.

Priestman thinks Canada’s ‘quality’ will overcome physicality?

At the same press meeting Priestman talked of how Ireland will be a "horrible" team to play against, with their physicality, “passion and hard work.”

"I think from my perspective we have to match [their physicality] and hope that our quality shines through.

“Ultimately we have to stay with the process and what we think it will take to beat this Irish team and stay clear-headed because there are parts of the Irish team where if you're not careful you can be drawn into that and it can take you down a route that can take you off task” she added.

Off the pitch distractions?

Away from the field of play, Canada are still fighting their own battles.

Similar to Ireland’s stance in 2017 they recently made a stand against their association in a bid for better treatment and equality, led by Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt and Quinn.

While this has been set aside for the tournament with a Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, the team are committed to increased funding and investment to par that of their men’s set up.

With the cloud looming however, fans of the team fear it may still play a part in the teams’ performances and therefore results on the pitch.

The last time Ireland and Canada met

The last time the Irish WNT encountered Canada was all the way back in 2014,  but there are still many familiar faces involved to this day.

Aine O’Gorman, Louise Quinn, Ruesha Littlejohn, Denise O’Sullivan, Diane Caldwell all played and are among the 23 woman squad Down Under, with famous faces such as Emma Byrne and Karen Duggan also in the line-up.

The Girls In Green fell short 2-1 on that day, but the bright spark was a goal for Littlejohn, who’ll be aspiring to repeat the feat again when this face off in this World Cup.

SEE ALSO: Five Tactical Tweaks Vera Pauw Should Consider As Ireland Eye Famous Result v Canada

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