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Canada expects a stiffer challenge from Australia in women’s soccer rematch

Canada is expecting a response from a motivated Australia when the teams meet Tuesday in Sydney in the second game of their women’s soccer friendly series.

The seventh-ranked Canadians won 1-0 when the teams met Saturday at Suncorp Stadium, thanks to an 11th-minute wonder strike from distance by Manchester United forward Adriana Leon.

The 12th-ranked Matildas, led by Chelsea star Sam Kerr, had their opportunities but could not beat goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. Australia coach Tony Gustavsson lamented the missed opportunities, saying after the match that his team could have scored three goals on another night.

“The Australia that I know, I think they could have another level to them,” Canada coach Bev Priestman told a virtual media call Monday.

“We’re not getting carried away and I do think that Australia have another gear to them,” she added. “And they’ll be out with a point to prove, for sure. On home soil, getting a loss and maybe not getting those chances in the back of the net. I know when you’re a Sam Kerr you come into this game very, very motivated and we have to match that for sure.”

The Canadians have a depleted roster Down Under, with their entire starting backline absent thanks to injuries to defenders Kadeisha Buchanan, Vanessa Gilles, Jayde Riviere and Allysha Chapman, with Ashley Lawrence unavailable for personal reasons.

Forward Deanne Rose is also injured.

Priestman paired veteran centre back Shelina Zadorsky with Sura Yekka flanked by Bianca St-Georges and Janine Beckie, who normally plays further forward, at fullback.

St-Georges, who plays her club football for the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars, had an outstanding game in just her fourth senior outing.

Priestman’s starting 11 Saturday featured just four starters from the 2021 Olympic final in Tokyo: captain Christine Sinclair, Jessie Fleming, Beckie and Nichelle Prince.

Priestman deployed a new-look 4-2-3-1 formation with Fleming and Julia Grosso ahead of the back four with Prince, Sinclair and Leon behind striker Jordyn Huitema. Canada used all six substitutes permitted, with only Jade Rose, Marie Levasseur and Quinn, who goes by one name, as unused outfield players.

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