Canada looked relaxed in training on Wednesday morning heading into their first group stage match against Nigeria at the Women’s World Cup, despite some players appearing to go at their own pace.
Midfielder Jessie Fleming essentially acted as a spectator during the morning portion of practice which was attended by members of the media on the field of a local soccer club. And forwards Deanne Rose and Nichelle Prince, who are back after each recovering from an Achilles tendon injury, trained alone under the supervision of a Team Canada therapist.
“Some players follow their own plan,” admitted Canadian coach Bev Priestman, downplaying the injury issue. Today was light training… You would have seen Deanne and Nichelle doing some specific exercises as part of a rehabilitation process. So, yeah, I think Jessie is fine. »
She hopes so.
Fleming is one of the most important cogs in the Canadian team. The 25-year-old midfielder who plays for Chelsea, who is playing in her third World Cup and has 19 goals in her career with the national team, generates a lot of things.
The Maple Leaf representatives, ranked seventh in the world, will begin their tournament Thursday evening (10:30 p.m., Montreal time) against Nigeria (No. 40) at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.
Injuries have clouded Canada’s prospects heading into the tournament. Priestman hoped that this backstory was now over.
Prince and Rose had to work hard to recover in time for the tournament. They succeeded, which was not the case for midfielder Desiree Scott (136 starts), still plagued by health problems. Rising star defender Jade Rose also had to pull out of World Cup pre-season camp due to injury, while forward Janine Beckie was ruled out of the squad after undergoing knee surgery. in March.
In short, injuries have affected Canada.
Despite all this, the atmosphere was good-natured in training.
The three goalkeepers were the first to jump onto the field, doing some stretching to the sound of vogueMadonna, and S Club Party from S Club 7.
“We’re really looking forward to it getting started,” admitted Kailen Sheridan, Canada’s starting goaltender. We have been here for a few weeks already. We all feel the excitement rising… We love our time so far, but nothing replaces a World Cup match. »
Priestman smiled as he met members of the media.
“We’re here, and we can’t wait for it to start,” she said. We made sure to have fresh legs. I talked about it a lot with my players, especially the importance of having fresh legs for the elimination rounds. And everything we’ve done so far has been done in that direction.
“You’ve seen the fun the girls have together, and I think this team plays to its full potential when it’s fun,” added Priestman.
Canada’s journey in Group B will get a little tougher with each game. After Nigeria, the Canadians will face Ireland (No. 22) and Australia (No. 10).
The top two teams in that group will advance to the next round, and the group winner will in all likelihood avoid a clash with reigning European champions England (No 4) in the round of 16 of the tournament.