• December 5, 2021

Women´s soccer gets boost from return of Diana Matheson after 1 year injury absence

For Canada coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller, one of the takeaways from last summer’s early exit at the Women’s World Cup in France was the need to play more Tier 1 opposition.

The Canadians faced the best team on the planet earlier this month at the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship final, losing 3-0 to the United States after having qualified for the Tokyo Games with a semifinal victory over Costa Rica.

Three more heavyweights await at next month’s Tournoi de France.

Eighth-ranked Canada takes on No. 4 France on March 4 before facing the third-ranked Netherlands on March 7 and No. 9 Brazil on March 10 with all three matches at Stade de l’Epopee.

“It’s going to give us some great insight on our players and who are actually already at the level where we can compete against Tier 1 opposition consecutively, like game to game to game. Not just one game but across games,” Heiner-Moller informed a media conference call Tuesday.

All three European teams are in season, unlike North America where the NWSL kicks off its season April 18.

“The three teams are different but what is obviously a common theme is the quality … I’m super-, super-excited,” Heiner-Moller added. “And I know we’re going to have some great answers to some of the questions we’ve for right now.”

The questions include which formations Canada can use effectively versus elite opposition and which players are most adept at using them.

The Canadian women will face another top-10 opponent in No. 7 Australia in an April 14 friendly in Vancouver.

Heiner-Moller gets a boost for the France tournament in the return of veteran Diana Matheson from a one-year injury absence.

The 35-year-old Matheson won the last of her 203 caps in March 2019 at the Algarve Cup. The attacking midfielder from Oakville, Ont., was sidelined by a toe injury that required surgery. She was ruled out of last summer’s World Cup, serving instead as a TV pundit.

She has missed the last 17 national-team matches, during which the Canadian women went 10-5-2.

“This will be a great opportunity to see her in the environment — with our team but also against some of the best teams in the world,” Heiner-Moller told a media conference call.

Matheson, he said, brings experience and a “soccer brain (that) is pretty massive.”

“She understands the game … She knows the game from different perspectives and positions,” he said.

Steve Carr

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