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Canada's national women's soccer team head coach John Herdman

DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The clock is counting down on the Women's World Cup and Canadian soccer coach John Herdman is ticking boxes on his meticulous to-do list.

Herdman and his staff are renowned for their preparation, from how long it takes to drive from the team hotel to the stadium to strategy when you go down by a goal with 20 minutes left or you have a player sent off.

The 39-year-old English coach says his plan is detailed, but flexible enough to incorporate innovation from his players and support staff.

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With just 100 days remaining to the June 6 World Cup kickoff as of Thursday, Herdman and Canada are in Cyprus preparing for the Cyprus Cup. They're using the tournament to run through a variety of on-field scenarios.

Next is bringing team chemistry "right to a crescendo," he said.

"So we're slowly identifying what people's roles are in the team and whether they can cope with the roles that they're going to be given," he explained. "Because not every player can play every minute of every game. But there are some players that are going to play a lot of the minutes.

"So can people take different roles and when you're given that role, can you still contribute to the culture that will help us win a World Cup?"

After the Cyprus Cup, Herdman's team will play one last game – in Bondoufle, France, against the third-ranked French.

The ninth-ranked Canadian women open the 24-team World Cup on June 6 against No. 13 China in Edmonton before facing No. 18 New Zealand on June 11, also in Edmonton, and the 11th-ranked Netherlands on June 15 in Montreal.

The goal is to win Pool A, which reduces travel and should help avoid meeting a tournament heavyweight in the round of 16. But Canada could finish third in its group and still advance.

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FIFA seeded Germany, the U.S., France, Japan and Brazil atop the other five tournament groups. Sweden and England will also pose threats.

Herdman, who used to coach New Zealand, will likely name his 23-woman roster ahead of schedule at the end of April, so the suspense is over early and the team can look forward to its task.

"The longer you leave it, the more stress there is," he said. "You don't want that."

He will also name four alternates. In the meantime, he is waiting to see if defender Lauren Sesselmann and midfielder Diana Matheson can recover in time from knee injuries.

As host, Canada avoided a qualifying process that saw 128 countries play 398 matches. Herdman wrote his own pre-tournament road map, swapping in young talent and inviting elite teams to play Canada.

The charismatic Herdman has already shown he has the right stuff. Inheriting a broken team that finished last at the 2011 World Cup, he led it to bronze at the 2012 Olympics.

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Captain Christine Sinclair became a national icon in a losing cause, scoring three goals in a memorable 4-3 semifinal loss to the U.S. at Old Trafford and berating Norwegian referee Christina Pedersen for her handling of the game.

Sinclair then picked the team up and helped it claim bronze in a 1-0 victory over France.

Veteran goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc, who has more than 100 caps for her country, is looking to inspire a nation again in what will be her fifth World Cup.

With 100 days left, she is buzzing.

"For us it's that excitement," said the 34-year-old from Maple Ridge, B.C., who will likely join Stephanie Labbe in backing up Erin McLeod. "It's coming, it's closer. This is what we've been waiting for, this is what we've been dreaming about.

"As a child you dream of playing in an Olympic Games or a World Cup. But you never really dream of it being in your home country. So it's something that we're embracing. People talk about pressure but, to us, it's an opportunity to really make this country see the women's game, see the sport that we love and have a passion for. And for us, it's an honour. We'll get to do it in front of our friends and family, but also the nation that we represent. And that's what we've been looking forward to.

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"A hundred days, in one sense it can't come sooner. But in another sense it's great because that means 100 days more hard work we get to put in to being the best version of ourselves."

The World Cup, which will stage matches in Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver, will wrap up July 5 with the gold medal in B.C. Place Stadium.

The Canadian Soccer Association says more than half a million fans have already claimed their seats for the tournament.

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