Canada starts play this week in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, lumped in the tournament’s formidable Group B that has been coined this year’s version of the Group of Death.
It’s being called that because, along with Australia, Ireland and Nigeria, each is capable of defeating the other, creating an unpredictability in which team will move on to the tournament’s knockout rounds.
It’s good to note that despite not having a sendoff match at home, Canada, ranked No. 7 in the world, played the No. 4-ranked England Lionesses to a draw on Friday in a pre-tournament friendly.
No media or spectators were permitted in to watch, so while it’s tough to judge the play and make technical comparisons, there is optimism for Canada in playing tough versus an opponent viewed as a serious threat to win the Women’s World Cup. The Lionesses emerged as champions in last year’s Euro tournament.
And Canada managed the result despite some notable absences (Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Fran Kirby) from the lineup because of injury.
In 2022, Canada played two games each versus both Australia and Nigeria, winning three but drawing one against Nigeria.
The Super Falcons have won Africa’s continental championship multiple times and are a mainstay at Women’s World Cup tournaments.
They lost to Morocco and Equatorial Guinea recently, but have a roster that is undeniably talented and boast one of the most thrilling players in the world in Asisat Oshoala.
Oshoala plays for Barcelona FC and is the only African woman to have won the UEFA Women’s Champions League trophy twice. Her success within women’s soccer has made history and she is an attacking force on the field.
No. 22-ranked Ireland’s first appearance at the Women’s World Cup, but they are not new to international competition nor world-class players.
They played the Matildas two years ago in Dublin and defeated them 3-2. The last time they played Canada was in 2014 and they have never played Nigeria.
Ireland’s captain is Arsenal FC superstar Kate McCabe. There was a wee scare when McCabe sustained an ankle injury in a warmup game against France last week. Ireland fell to France, 3-0, but McCabe is reported to be fit enough to play in the World Cup.
Canada’s final match of the group stages is against co-hosts Australia, ranked No. 10 in the world. They are the home team with outstanding support and talent on the roster. It could be argued that they are Canada’s biggest threat. They placed first in the Cup of Nations earlier this year, defeating Czechia, Jamaica and Spain.
The Matildas are top competitors in the Asian federation and in Sam Kerr boast one of the most electric players in the world. Kerr is a Chelsea teammate in England’s FA Women’s Super League to Canadians Fleming, Buchanan and the recently added Ashley Lawrence.