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Did Canada Use The Wrong Tactics Against Australia?

By on August 6, 2023 0 1065 Views

After a couple of days, I decided to reflect and give my honest opinion on the matter.

Four days after Canada’s shocking exit at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup I had the time to digest this result and now I give my thoughts on analysis of the match.

24 hours later, Brazil faced Jamaica in Melbourne and the situation was identical to Canada against Australia, with Brazil needing a win and Jamaica needing a draw to advance.

I attended the match and saw a very smart strategy used by Jamaica’s head coach Lorne Donaldson, and it made me think what could have been if Bev Priestman had done the same.

At the MD-1 press conference, she was asked if the team would stay back and go for the draw or play a more attacking style and go for a win, and she opted to go for the latter which was a mistake.

Jamaica showed a continuing trend at this World Cup: that teams who possess more of the ball don’t win, and a great example is Japan who averages under 40% but has not lost a match yet.

They sat back and let Brazil attack while knowing all the pressure was on them, and even if there were a couple of counter-attacks it still got the job done knocking out another top ten country.

Priestman could have similarly set up a low block and let Australia have the ball knowing Canada is known for their defensive prowess and has the best keeper on the planet in Kailen Sheridan.

Going for the win left them wide open and after two of the goals against came off corners, the Canadians looked frantic, losing track of the ball, and Australia took full advantage of it.

Canada Adriana Leon
Photo Credit: Canada Soccer

We saw a similar first-half performance in the second game against Ireland and a lucky bounce off an Irish defender got them back in, turning the tide and the momentum in their favour.

Canada – Nigeria had a similar storyline to Canada-Belgium match at the Men’s World Cup in Qatar, with Canada earning a penalty in both games with both Alphonso Davies and Christine Sinclair being denied by world-class goalkeepers.

The decisions as to who would take it seemed rushed – normally Jesse Fleming is Canada’s penalty taker on the women’s side, but she was on the bench and didn’t play.

These are all determining factors as to why Canada is now back home with an elimination that they will have to forget quickly with the Olympic qualifiers coming up next month against Jamaica.

Canada will have to find a way to break down a much improved Jamaican defense and basically, a wall protecting the net. Also worth noting is their keeper Rebecca Spencer, who has been fantastic.

Canada Women's National Team 2023
Photo Credit: Audrey Magny / Canada Soccer

Another interesting tidbit is the team releasing a statement during the tournament on the interim agreement with Canada Soccer when players were quoted as saying they wouldn’t discuss it during the tournament.

Was it a distraction in the back of their head? Even as the media attempted to get answers the response was always “we will not comment at this time.”

Canada Soccer should have done a better job communication-wise with that situation.

The fact that they almost blacked out the media for the final game shows a breakdown there. The Canadian media almost didn’t get any media availabilities, but then a piece by The Canadian Press breaking the news forced an immediate reaction adding one to MD-2.

It wasn’t even a training session and more of a post-reaction to a gym session in Bundoora, which is 45 minutes outside of Melbourne.

This Women’s World Cup has been flipped on its head with teams like Germany, Canada, Italy, and South Korea – who are all in the world’s top twenty – going home early.

In their place Jamaica, Morocco, Colombia, and Nigeria – not to mention South Africa, who all surprised the world by advancing to the knockout stage.

The Round of 16 began this weekend, but we’ll still be wondering what Canada could have done to reach it.

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