Canada face hosts Brazil in Natal 2015 Final

Canada’s approach to the upcoming final will focus on continuing to build key partnerships on the back line.

Canada’s Women’s National Team has booked a ticket into the Grand Final at the 2015 Torneio Internacional de Natal, but to take home the top prize they will have to best hosts Brazil, just three days after falling 2:1 to them in group play. If the rematch is anything like Wednesday’s battle, both teams will be leaving it all out on the pitch.

Head Coach John Herdman doesn’t expect too many surprises from the Brazilian side when they meet at Arenas das Dunas on the Sunday 20 December. In fact, he’s pretty certain he knows what Brazilian side he will face as Canada prepares to battle for their second win at the annual Brazilian four-nations tournament.

“We expect a lot of the same,” he said, referring back to the Wednesday’s group match. “Brazil have been in camp together since January, they are full time in residency, so we expect to see very much the same sort of line up. They play the same players and tactics week in, week out; they just work on being good at what they do and we have to try and unpick that.”

Canada’s approach to the upcoming final will focus on continuing to build key partnerships on the back line and executing tactics specific to Brazil’s formidable striking capacity.

“I am hoping our team takes the same defensive discipline into this game, just with greater awareness of Brazil’s threats, including that long ball in behind,” said Herdman. “We’ll need to keep dealing with that better and to continue stopping their key threats: the two centre midfielders and obviously Marta. The team did it very well last match.”

Canada has been using this tournament as a staging ground for the upcoming 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying and with that groundwork come tests, but also moments of brilliance. As Herdman continues to survey the squad he’s assembled, he is mindful of areas that need work, but focused on bringing the best out of the players.

“Coming in to this next game, we’ve talked about just playing quicker,” he said. “The last match was very physical and players trying to play on three touches were getting hammered in the midfield, so we’ll be playing quicker. I’m also hoping Sinclair brings the level of leadership she did to the last game. When she took hold of the team and said some pretty inspiring words after the goal – it changed everything.”

With many players looking to make a mark during this competition ahead of Olympic selection, it’s all about committing to teamwork and tactics.

Centre back Kadeisha Buchanan, 20, Canada’s top female player this year and a selection for the FIFA Women’s World Cup All-Star Team, summed up the team’s defensive strategy as built on a foundation of cooperation.

“Obviously Brazil is a great attacking team,” said Buchanan. “I feel like, as a unit we are going to have to do very well at defending and marking the key players like Marta and Formiga. They are very technical on the ball and they are very good one on one, so we have to make sure we double up on them and always make sure we are there to support each other.”

For Janine Beckie, who has been playing alongside Christine Sinclair as a striker throughout the tournament, success will come through taking chances at the right time. The pair have been working well together, building a relationship that may very well take them through to the Olympics this summer.

“Getting in behind them is critical,” she said “We didn’t expose them enough in behind last game, but we have some threats up top with our speed and with our finishing ability.”

Canada’s narrow loss to Brazil in the group stage proved an important opportunity for Herdman and the team to better learn about an opponent they may face repeatedly over the next few months leading into the 2016 Rio Olympics. Sunday’s final may prove to be the start of an intense rivalry as both teams have been confirmed for the Algarve Cup in March 2016, with Canada in Group A and Brazil in Group B, leading to a possible clash in the knockout stage.

In its seventh year, the Brazil tournament has seen Brazil as victors in six of those tournaments, their sole conqueror – Canada in 2010.

The 20 December 2015 final match takes place at 17.45 local (15.45 ET / 12.45 PT) and will be broadcast on Band Sports in Brazil.

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