Canada’s Priestman fine-tuned for W Gold Cup semi-final classico against the US

March 6 – Canada coach Bev Priestman is confident that if her players perform to their abilities they can beat the USA tonight in the Snapdragon Stadium, San Diego, in the semi-final of the inaugural W Gold Cup.

But she is also wary that they have not yet had to play a high ranked women’s nation in the competition and that in their quarter final against Costa Rica they were profligate in front of goal.

“Given our best, on a good day we can beat the States and that’s all I’m going to ask of the group – to take our identity, our strengths into this game. Go and deliver them. I’ve seen the best from this team and if we do that we win the game,” said Priestman.

“I think for us we’ll be looking to start strong and impose ourselves. I think we’ve worked every single game on fine tuning us and this is exactly that. It’s a chance to fine tune some of the areas that I felt our standards dropped in little moments of, you know, lapses of concentration and we know we have to be on our game and that every minute matters.”

That fine tuning has to involve the thin margin in front of goal between scoring and missing. While the Canadians top scored in the group stages with 13 goals, they could have scored more, having had 77 shots on goal across the tournament so far. Against the US the chances will likely not come so readily.
“You might not get that volume of chances and so when you do what’s important (is taking them) and that was what was missing in those moments. But I think we expect this US game to look very different. We have to impose ourselves. I expect that we’ll come in with a great mindset and that’s us at our best,” said Priestman.

“I’ll be imposing our own identity and not sort of fall into what the opponent looks like but you have to respect obviously the quality that they’ve got and it’s the test that we need I think.”
Priestman makes the point that it is not just about the W Gold Cup but where Canada want to be in terms of performance on July 25 when the Olympics kick off in France and Canada begin the defence of their gold medal from 2020.
“It’s going to take these tests along the way like we’ve had with Brazil (at the end of 2023), and I know the top nations have really stretched us. We want to be stretched. These are the games that you live for as a coach, as a player, and it’ll be an exciting one,” said Priestman.

“I think we don’t have to overhype the opposition… We know them, the players know them very well and they’re a top, top team. But I think we’re on our journey, you know, and I think come the Olympics, that’s when everything needs to be right and it won’t all be right tomorrow, and I think we have to accept that.

“In our group stage, we haven’t faced a top 10 team. And so there will be moments where you know they’ll play through us or whatever that might be. I think the players trust in the process and are buying into that process, but also showing the same level of bravery or little moments of brilliance that I feel I’ve seen in moments of this group stage and knowing that that’s there and it’s within us… Sometimes it’s mindset that separates the two teams and I just want the team to really go for it. I’d rather die trying.”

What Canada do have is an outstanding defence that has yet to concede in this tournament.

“We know that post World Cup we’ve conceded very few goals and I think that is our identity and we celebrate that. We embrace that and that has to be there tomorrow. But I think what we also know we have great threat. That when you play against Canada you’re going to be on your heels a little bit and I think that’s an exciting place to be,” said Priestman.

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