Legs not long enough?

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:04 AM ET

HANGZHOU, China -- It's about the Canadian girls' legs. They're nice, but ...

Are they 90 minutes nice?

Can the Canadians go from beginning to end of a game without running out of gas again?

It was a fair question after the Canadian legs turned into rubber in the second half in losing their opening game of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2-1 to Norway.

Tomorrow they play Ghana here.

Wednesday they play Australia in Chengdu, a three-hour flight from here.

If they lose their legs again, run out of gas in either of those games, they're going to be hoofing it home early.

TRYING FOR FOUR

It's an interesting situation Canada's girls of summer are dealing with, trying to repeat their feat of finishing in the final four at the last World Cup.

First they ran out of gas at the Pan-Am Games since a third of the team was over-trained (because of too much practice), a third under-trained (because of too many injuries) and the other third was not in action.

Then they had only one pre-tournament game, a 0-0 draw in Japan on the way here.

So, while they felt they'd peaked for this tournament in terms of training, they had to play against the No. 4 ranked team in the world without having what they call game fitness.

Now there are concerns because of what happened in the opener as the Canadians wilted under pressure from Norway and the humidity they have to deal with in China.

"It's a bit of a concern, yes," said Kara Lang.

"But we believe the style we had to play against Norway in the first half meant we would inevitably get worn out. We played high pressure for the first 45 minutes."

Exactly, said Erin McLeod, the goaltender who played brilliantly in her first World Cup game.

"Everything has been kind of a factor, from what happened at the Pan-Am Games, to only having the one game in Japan to what happened in the second half against Norway.

"The thing with Norway is that they are a very good pressure team and they pass so well. You end up running around constantly. It's a lot to ask of a midfielder."

TRIPLE ATTENTION

Star striker Christine Sinclair, who received double and triple attention when she was anywhere near the net in the first half and didn't get any service in the second half, said there were two teams on the field.

"You have to look at the team we were playing. They are a ball-possession team which is exceptional at passing it around. You end up chasing them. It kicks your butt."

It's not a level field because of the Canadian Soccer Association being unable to afford to properly organize and promote home games.

And some of it is location, location, location.

"It's a wonderful thing in Europe when you only have to go next door to get a game," said McLeod.

"Match fitness is a factor here. And at the Pan-Am Games, we were definitely over-trained. You could see signs of fatigue in the first 10 minutes," she said of a 7-0 loss to Brazil.

Coach Even Pellerud, who was forced to watch the first game from the stands due to a suspension for being thrown out of the final of the Gold Cup qualifying final against the U.S.A, said Canada had to play a game against Norway which was definitely playing with fire.

"We're not used to playing at that pace for 90 minutes," he said.

Pellerud said he's not concerned about what happened at the Pan-Am Games.

"We recovered from that. In the last six weeks we've been sharp and I've been quite happy."

He said game fitness was a problem in the opener. But you get that from one game to the next in the tournament.

"That's my hope," he said.


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