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Capping Off A Perfect Group Stage: CanWNT vs Costa Rica Match Analysis

By on February 29, 2024 0 501 Views

On Wednesday, the Canadian Women’s National Team capped off their Concacaf W Gold Cup group stage with a 3-0 win over Costa Rica, claiming top seed with their perfect record.

Job Well Done

It wasn’t the greatest of displays from Bev Priestman’s team in her 50th match in charge of the national team, but they got the job done in the end. Priestman named another changed line-up, this time with Jordyn Huitema and Clarissa Larisey coming into the attack, Simi Awujo and Gabrielle Carle slotting into midfield, and Shelina Zadorsky taking her place in the defence.

While the goals are what’ll steal the headlines, the main takeaway should be on Canada’s defence. They made it three clean sheets out of three with this match. They were organized and resolute, and never allowed Costa Rica to even get a shot away. Shelina Zadorsky proved that there is real competition in Canada’s backline even without her brace.

The performance sort of fell flat in the last 25-30 minutes, when Priestman shifted from her 3-4-3 to a 4-4-2. You could see the intent from Priestman with the tired legs starting to come under some late resurgent pressure from Costa Rica, but it nullified any spark that Canada had earlier in the match.

It’s safe to say that the 4-4-2 won’t be the way forward for Canada, but their performance both earlier in the match and earlier in the tournament was more than enough to get them in the knockout stages.

Simi Awujo & Jessie Fleming, The New Pivot?

The newly captained Jessie Fleming has had a great tournament so far, and perhaps Wednesday night’s performance was the best out of the lot, especially in the first half. However, keener eyes would have been more focused on her central midfield partner in Simi Awujo.

Awujo has been lower in the pecking order for Bev Priestman so far, sitting behind the likes of Quinn and Julia Grosso. However, this tournament has allowed Awujo to get more opportunites, and with a positive cameo against Paraguay (where she won a penalty that eventually was missed by Fleming), she got the nod to start this match. Immediately and throughout the first half, the pairing simply worked really well. They seemed synchronous in their positioning and passing, and controlled the match for Canada. Fleming was allowed to have more freedom due to Awujo covering for her, and that allowed Fleming to pick out that wonderful assist for Jordyn Huitema to open the scoring.

Of course, against tougher opposition, Priestman may rely back onto her tried and tested options of Fleming and Quinn or Fleming and Grosso, but Awujo has certaintly done enough to warrant her name being thrown in that ring.

Smooth Sailing Until Bigger Opposition

While it is wonderful to see how well Canada have done with their perfect record, three clean sheets and 13 goals scored… they were always favourites to progress as group winners. The strength of their opposition, as was proven in their subsequent games, was always pipped to be dwarfed by Canada’s astounding depth in ability and talent. The real test begins in the knockouts.

While they face Costa Rica once again in the quarters, should they advance to the semi-final stage – as many believe they should – then there is where the competitions really begins for Canada. A potential semi-final against the US or Colombia will truly test where Priestman’s side is a post-World Cup and post-Sinclair world. Both will be stiff competition with their own respective strength in quality, but Canada need to get the job done once again against Costa Rica first for that to happen.

Canada’s Concacaf W Gold Cup semi-final match will take place this Saturday and will be available live on OneSoccer for Canadian viewers.

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