A cool, crisp Saturday afternoon welcomed Canada and Japan for their friendly at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium. The match marked the first ever visit to Canada for the reigning Women’s World Cup champions. Decked out in their neon yellow and pink kits, Japan showed the nearly 10,000 in attendance their methodical and technical game plan, as they came away with a 3-0 victory.
This game will be used as a measuring stick for Canada. The red and white were caught on their heels at times, which is indicative of the scoreline. However, Canada’s fullbacks were the bright spot. They continued to be activated, as both Rhian Wilkinson and newcomer Allysha Chapman played strong crosses and through balls, which led to scoring opportunities.
In a poignant moment, there was a minute of silence before the anthems were played to remember this week’s fallen heroes, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. Canada also wore black arm bands to honour these brave men.
Japanese head coach Norio Sasaki:
“If Canada would have scored by the heading of number 12 (Christine Sinclair) from the cross on the right side, it might have been different.”
“For the second match, we’ll have totally different players. It’s one of my themes to test to see how they play on the pitch. I look forward to the match.”
Canadian head coach John Herdman:
“Thanks very much to the fans and apologies for the score. It was a bit rough. You watch the Japanese, you give them an inch and they take a yard with the quality that they have. I think in the first 10 minutes, we struggled with the depth and the pace of them, the pace of their movement, the pace of the game. Then, once we got a hold of it, we actually showed what our potential is for that World Cup.”
“We wanted to give some people some opportunities. That was the first thing. We brought Allysha Chapman in for her first cap for Canada and she had a wonderful performance. I was really impressed with what she showed out there. We’ve really been searching for a left footed player back there for more than two years. I think we found one.”
Allysha Chapman (Canadian player of the match) on earning her first senior cap:
“It feels great being back. It’s been over five years since I’ve been in the program. It felt good. I was really nervous to start the game, but I felt I really settled into it as the game went on. I got better and felt more comfortable. I’m just really excited to be back again.”
Christine Sinclair on the match:
“I think in the past when we played teams like Japan, it’s like we’d defend for 90 minutes and hope we catch them on the break or score on a set piece. Tonight, we played. We had the ball, we had chances, we broke them down and it wasn’t just defending at all costs. But, we do have to put a few away and make the most of our chances.”
Christine Sinclair on facing Japan October 28th in Vancouver:
“I think it’s going to be a great test for us. Can we put two solid performances together back-to-back with travel? It’s what the World Cup is going to be like. It’s going to be a great opportunity hopefully to show our depth and see what we’re made of. Those are two very hard games within three days.”
Melissa Tancredi on improvement:
“It’s a building phase and we seriously need to get some points on board and come back at them next game. We need to mentally get back into it.”
About the author:
Sandra Prusina is a journalist and broadcaster based out of Calgary, Canada. She has covered women’s soccer since 2010. She is also a segment reporter for Olympic Broadcast Services, traveling to Vancouver, London and Sochi to work for the host broadcaster.