One of John Herdman’s World Cup goals for 2015 is to field the most resilient and connected team.
“This resilience training starts now,” Canada’s women’s soccer coach said.
The Canadians face South Korea at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium on Oct. 30, a friendly that both gives the women a chance to get used to the stadium where they’ll open up their World Cup campaign, and tests their resiliency. Average temperatures for Oct. 30 in the Alberta capital range from 0 to 6 C.
“The players need to see that it is part of the test to keep themselves focused on the task at hand,” Herdman said on a conference call Thursday to announce his preliminary roster. “I’m hoping the warm reception of the crowd warms everything up for us; the more people we put in the stadium, the warmer it will be.”
The Canadian team that will face South Korea features 13 Olympic bronze medallists plus 16-year-old national team rookie Sura Yekka, as Herdman continues to evaluate young talent before the final push to the World Cup.
Star striker Christine Sinclair is one of the 13 who captured bronze for Canada at the 2012 London Olympics, while Yekka, a defender from Mississauga, Ont., earned her first call-up to Canada’s senior squad after an impressive showing for the national under-20 side.
“As a 16-year-old Sura fits the profile of that modern fullback, she ticks a lot of the boxes that we’re looking for, and I think that’s what’s exciting,” Herdman said. “As I said to the young players when they came into that camp, if you’re good enough you’re old enough. And this player is someone that looks really exciting and could have a promising future.”
Canada, which has three wins and a loss all-time against South Korea, was beaten 3-1 by the Koreans the last time the two teams met, at the Yongchuan Cup tournament in January.
Twelve of the 18 players on the current roster played the last time the two countries faced off.
Yekka is one of 32 new faces Herdman has had into camp in his quest to field a younger team when Canada hosts the World Cup. He warned there would be growing pains in the early going of what he called a “two-steps-back three-steps-forward” approach.
“When you immerse 30-odd new players into a program, no other national teams do that straight after a World Cup, you won’t see that happen very often,” Herdman said.
The game marks the first for the Canadian women at Commonwealth Stadium since a friendly against Germany in 2005. There will be more to come in Edmonton, as Canada will play its opening game of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup at Commonwealth.
Cold weather or not, the choice of stadium was part of Herdman’s World Cup preparation plans, “to get the experience of playing in that opening stadium,” he said.
He’s hoping Edmontonians will “give us the best chance to experience what it’s going to be like at the Women’s World Cup because bringing the team here, it’s important that we get a sense of how it’s going to roll out, how’s its going to feel, what all the processes and systems are that we’ve got to get used to to perform on the big day.”
Herdman believes South Korea will qualify for the World Cup, and could even be in Canada’s group when they play the preliminary round in Edmonton.
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