Canada ready to match Ireland’s physicality at Women’s World Cup

PERTH, Australia –

Canada might be expecting a physical game from upstart Ireland when they meet on Wednesday in the Women’s World Cup, but coach Bev Priestman pointed out her squad is well-known for their physicality as well.

“I think (Ireland) do what Canada does and puts their body on the line for their country,” Priestman said on the eve of their game in Perth.

“We have to match it and hope that our quality shines through, but definitely first and foremost, match that passion, hard work, (be a) horrible team to play against, and that’s what we pride ourselves on… and (Ireland) know that about Canada too. I think it’s a two-way street.”

Unexpectedly Olympic champions Canada had to settle for a scoreless draw in their opener against Nigeria. Ireland put up a brave showing in front of almost 80,000 pro-Australia fans as they were beaten 1-0 by the co-hosts in their opening match.

“By no means are we going into the game thinking it is going to be an easy game,” Priestman said. “I’ve seen the level of passion and spirit.”

Jessie Fleming, who scored two penalties in the gold-medal game at the Tokyo Games, remains an injury doubt after sitting out the Nigeria game.

“Jessie is a top athlete and a top human so she is professional, doing everything that she needs to do to be ready to be back playing on the field for Canada,” said defender Ashley Lawrence.

“There isn’t someone more than Jesse that wants her to be out there.”

Following their draw with Nigeria, Priestman showed a picture of Argentina celebrating their 2022 World Cup triumph in Qatar to her dejected players gathered in the dressing room, reminding them that Lionel Messi’s team had lost their opening game to Saudi Arabia.

“Sport is so relatable and when we see that example, it just shows that a tournament is long and Bev has always told us it’s day by day, it’s a process, it’s a marathon not a sprint,” Lawrence said.

“Any team coming into this tournament can win it and we have shown being Olympic champions, we have the experience in tournament play at the highest level and we’re taking it day by day.”

Canada’s final Group B match will be against Australia, who lead the standings with three points, on July 31.

(Reporting by Lori Ewing, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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