Wed, Jun 12, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Careful Canada will improve: Heiner-Moller

Reuters

Japan forward Kumi Yokoyama, left, vies against Argentina defender Aldana Cometti in their Women’s World Cup Group D match at Parc des Princes in Paris on Monday.

Photo: AFP

Canada coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller conceded that his side were nervous in their women’s World Cup opener against Cameroon in Montpellier on Monday, but said that the 1-0 Group E victory would allow them to play more freely from now on.

Canada, fifth in the women’s rankings, were far from convincing in front of the goal and Kadeisha Buchanan’s towering header on the stroke of halftime was one of 16 shots that they had, of which only four were on target.

“You could sense some nervousness,” Heiner-Moller told reporters. “We knew ... it would be difficult and crucial, and you’ve seen already in this tournament that not all the favorites come out of these matches with three points.”

“When you’re controling the ball and controling the game, small mistakes creep in, and Cameroon were always looking for those mistakes to counterattack with the fast players they had up front,” he said. “But I was pretty happy with the performance. There were some jitters, but now they’re gone. [The goal] gave us some calmness at halftime, because I felt they wanted too much too early.”

Cameroon had 35 percent possession and had only one shot on target in the match, and coach Alain Djeumfa said that he had set the team up to counterattack against a superior side.

“We prepared our structure and formation, but Canada are fifth in the women’s ranking and we are 46th,” Djeumfa said. “So we had to be realistic and focus on defending and hitting on the counterattack.”

“From a tactical point of view, I think the way our formation worked was very good,” Djeumfa added. “We were just up against a good team and found ourselves in sticky situations. Canada are a more mature team and we saw that out there.”

Canada, who in 2015 reached the quarter-finals, play New Zealand next, while Cameroon play the Netherlands, with both games taking place on Saturday.

ARGENTINA VS JAPAN

Japan’s quest to reach a third consecutive women’s World Cup final on Monday began with a dull goalless draw, as Argentina claimed their first-ever point at the tournament.

Asako Takakura’s Japan, ranked seventh in the world, kept almost two-thirds of the ball possession in Paris, but struggled to find a way past a disciplined Argentine center-back pairing of Agustina Barroso and Aldana Cometti.

Japan’s only meaningful chance came just after the interval when forward Kumi Yokoyama’s long-range effort forced goalkeeper Vanina Correa into her first save, before Yuki Sugasawa blasted the rebound over the bar.

The result ensured that Carlos Borrello’s Argentina avoided defeat for the first time in a World Cup match, having lost each of their previous six games in the competition.

They finished at the bottom of their group the previous occasions when they reached the finals in 2003 and 2007, and captain Estefania Banini believes that this result can act as a springboard for the rest of the campaign.

“This point is really important for us. I think we’re able to reflect upon what Argentina is and what it means as a team,” Banini said. “We had to run all the time, be focused all the time, because we were facing a team that — in terms of their gameplay — were superior to us.”

“We believe we can continue fighting and we can get more points on board, and not go home with just one,” the forward added.

Japan, who lifted the World Cup in 2011 by defeating the US, will be disappointed with their sluggish display in the final third after recording just three tries on goal.

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