Fri, September 20, 2013

Brit tricks don't worry Canadian Olympic women's soccer squad

By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency


Heading into Friday's clash with the Brits, Canadian Olympic soccer player Melissa Tancredi says: What, me worry? (QMI Agency)


LONDON - The Canadian women’s soccer team may want to consider taking a train or hire some cabs to get them to their quarterfinal game on Friday night against host Great Britain.

There seems to be a bit hanky-panky afoot.

The bus carrying the Brazilian team Monday from their base in Cardiff, Wales to Wembley Stadium, where they were to meet the British team in a key first-round game the next day, broke down and they were forced to endure “an interminable wait.”

According to the Daily Telegraph, another London 2012 Olympic bus was brought in to pick the Brazilian team up, but the driver of that bus wasn’t allowed to drive into London and the Brazilians had to wait even longer. Because of the mishap, the Brazilians couldn’t get in their normal workout and subsequently lost the game to Great Britain, 1-0, setting up a quarterfinal game between Great Britain and Canada. Brazilian Jorge Barcellos head coach called the incident “a disgrace.”

Some Brazilian officials have dubbed the bus incident “a sinister plan” to throw off their team.

So, should Canada beware of any funny stuff from Games organizers leading up to Friday’s game?

Probably not. For one thing, the Canadian team is based in Coventry, and that’s where the game with Great Britain will be played, so if their bus broke down, they could probably walk or hitch a ride.

What they have to be aware of will be the overwhelming crowd support for the host side. Olympic officials are expecting a record sell-out crowd at the 32,609-seat City of Coventry Stadium and crowds at these Games have been loud and proud, even intimidating, in support of the home teams. The crowd could act as a 12th man for the British, ranked ninth in the world to Canada’s seventh.

“We want to make the place rock,” said British coach Hope Powell.

On the other hand, the Canadians consider Coventry their home pitch, having played their twice already and aren’t worried about loud crowds.

“I think a sell-out crowd is awesome, you live for that stuff as an athlete,” said Canadian forward Melissa Tancredi. “It doesn’t matter who they are cheering for, as long as they are not heckling us too bad.

“We have played in some hostile crowds in Mexico, so we’ve been there,” the Ancaster, Ont., native added. “We’re a veteran team for the most part and I think we’ll deal well with it.”

The Canadian women are in a good place. They opened the tournament with a 2-1 loss to the defending world champions Japanese and then drubbed an over-matched South African team, 3-0.

But it was their most recent game that has given the squad plenty of confidence going into their match on Friday. Canada picked up a come-from-behind 2-2 draw against the fourth-ranked Swedes — a match that saw the Canadians turn the heat on the Swedes from the start, only to fall behind 2-0 early in the match. But the Canadians never gave up and had good support from the midfield and some solid defence.

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

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