July 4, 2011
Canada's World Cup finale means nothing
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
It is easy to put Canada's match with Nigeria Tuesday into perspective.
The only meaning it has will be to a select group. That group is Canada's national team. It will give the women's soccer team a last chance to save face at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany.
Otherwise, it has no value.
It means nothing, regardless of what happens. You can talk about it being about pride, about winning, about playing for your country blah, blah, blah, blah.
Both Nigeria and Canada are going home Wednesday no matter the outcome.
If Nigeria happens to win, it will go home touting the tournament as a success for a team from which little was expected.
If Canada wins, it will do nothing to wash away the lousy taste this tournament has left in our mouths. A win will do nothing to quell the questions and doubts that have been swallowed all the positive energy and confidence this team had going into the World Cup.
The game against Nigeria was supposed to be the starting point for Canada's foray into the world of the elite. Most everyone expected Canada to lose against Germany. A win against France was probable and no one questioned a win against Nigeria would happen. That would have meant Canada was headed to the quarterfinals.
Instead, a 4-0 loss to France and who-cares-what-happens against Nigeria begins Canada's foray into the world of the unknown.
This disaster couldn't have come at a more inopportune time.
Canada begins Olympic qualifying in six months.
National team coach Carolina Morace has gone from one of the best things to have happened to this program to having everything she has done put on trial.
It's wrong and unfair but when you fail, the knives come out.
Morace has made enemies at the Canadian Soccer Association, especially after she forced the CSA to give her what she wanted in a very public battle.
There is one thing about soccer executives -- they would like to be successful but the No. 1 priority for them is to keep their power and stay in charge. No one has heard much from those guys since the tournament began, or leading up to it for that matter.
The players bought into what Morace was selling and for good reason. It was the right thing to do. But after giving up pretty much everything to train and prepare, this World Cup fiasco has taken the heart out of them.
How willing are they going to be next time they're asked to train outside of Canada for months at a time?
The problem is more fundamental.
Despite the players doing everything they could, they still failed. Players are fond of saying, "it was one bad game," or "we are better than that," or "we didn't get the bounces."
Perhaps the heart has gone out of them because they've come to the realization that they simply aren't that good and, with many of them in the prime of their soccer careers, aren't going to improve significantly.
That improvement should have happened when they were in their teens and early 20s.
Morace said Canada wouldn't get better until it has a women's league.
She's right and wrong. A women's league in Canada would help the players but that isn't going to happen. Young players need to be better trained so they are good enough to play wherever those leagues are.
If Canada doesn't qualify for the Olympics, Morace is out. If she qualifies and does well, she still might not return as coach.
With the poor showing in Germany, the road got a little rockier for Morace.
Canada is host of the 2014 Women's World Cup. They don't have to qualify.
But it's looking more like the woman's national program will come under new direction yet again post-2012 Summer Olympics.
That is not a happy thought.