Canada hope to turn home advantage into World Cup glory
By Steve Keating
(Reuters) - Tremendous support and a familiarity with playing on artificial turf give Canada an edge at the Women's World Cup but the hosts will need to find a way to cope with sky-high expectations that come with staging the tournament.
Having now qualified for six consecutive World Cups and taken bronze at the 2012 London Olympics there is plenty of optimism in Canada that the hosts have a legitimate shot at reaching the July 5 final in Vancouver.
But there is also caution in the air after the Canadians went into the 2011 World Cup in Germany as contenders but did not make it out of the group stage after failing to win a game.
"We talked about how are we going to cope with the national anthem, how are we going to cope with the emotion of a packed house, how are we going to manage the first mistake that we make," said Canadian coach John Herdman. "Just continue with the plan, we are ticking boxes every single game.
"The tournament is never being looked at as too big, it is just next task, next day, next box."
Canada, who open the tournament on Saturday against China in Edmonton, routinely play in front of large crowds at home and will be assured of a packed house in every game.
The eighth-ranked hosts will also feel comfortable on the artificial turf having played more than any other country on the surface that created a storm of controversy.
A group of elite women's players sued FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association last year, arguing that artificial surfaces being used in the six Canadian host cities was discriminatory as every men's World Cup has been on real grass. Continued...