Canada falls 2-1 to hosts Brazil in third group match in Natal

Canada’s Women’s National Team fought the hard fight against Brazil, but fell 2-1 to the home side in front of a passionate Brazilian crowd

Canada’s Women’s National Team fought the hard fight against Brazil, but fell 2-1 to the home side in front of a passionate Brazilian crowd in the third and final match of the group stage at the Torneio Internacional de Natal.

Brazil got on the score sheet first with a goal from Andressa Alves off a free kick just outside the Canadian box with a curling left-footed blast over the wall and into the top corner. The second for Brazil came late in the first half when striker Marta was able to pull the Canadian defense out of position and find Débinha alone in the sweet spot. Canada responded with a great combination play as Captain Christine Sinclair played the ball off a throw in, and found Josée Belanger in front of the opposition net.

After the match, Head Coach John Herdman continued to praise the young players he had brought in for this tournament, and look to the future with the squad he is developing ahead of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers taking place in Texas in February.

“I am really happy with parts of the performance,” he said. “We went into this game, bringing in players we wanted to look at this level, including Faulknor who just played against some of the best strikers in the world and did well. I really enjoyed watching Nichelle Prince come in off the bench again – she really looked like a threat. Janine Beckie is starting to grow in confidence, and that connection with Sinclair is looking better and better. If we can get more control in the centre midfield we’ll be in good shape.”

Building a team that will bring Canada through the qualifiers and medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics next summer requires Canada’s coaching staff to evaluate the effectiveness of tactics and pairings, and Herdman did not shy away from pointing out where work had to be done.

“Our team showed real resilience in the second half, but we missed that little bit of quality in the middle to attacking third,” he said. “I think our front five gave them some problems and our back four were quite resolute. There was just something in the middle that we were missing. When there was space in behind they seemed to find it and we didn’t.”

With a blend of youth and veterans on the team assembled in Brazil, Herdman has plenty to work with, including players with exceptional range like tonight’s goal scorer Josée Belanger, who he played at both forward and fullback during the match.

“The beauty with Josée is she scores as a forward and when we want that attacking threat, she goes in at fullback,” he said. “She gives a little more, going forward with our attacking ability, and I think that’s what this team is becoming – more flexible.”

Coming into the match, Herdman knew the Brazilian side would be tight. They have been together as a team since January and have played five international matches over the period. Aware this was the best Brazilian team Canada will face, he was pleased with how his young side faired against the top South American squad.

“Tonight we had Matheson on the bench, Scott on the bench, and no Sophie Schmidt, but we had players we could bring into that match that could really change the game,” he said. “This is what we are building – a little more depth in this team – and now I can look at the roster and pick arguably my best team for the final.”

The focus is now on Sunday’s match, when Canada will get another chance to top Brazil in the Final at Arena das Dunas.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game, physically but also mentally,” said Josée Belanger. “It was a good test for us. We had a few chances, obviously we would have liked to win, but we know now what to work on for the final. It was a good start and we will be ready for the next game.”

READ MATCH REPORT : Canada 1:2 Brazil

Guidelines for the Return to Soccer

Canada Soccer outlines return to soccer guidelines. The return to soccer guidelines provide member organizations with a five-step process, including a checklist of weighted questions known as the Return to Soccer Assessment Tool.