Focus on field with Canada, China set for Cup opener

Fri Jun 5, 2015 8:27pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

EDMONTON (Reuters) - Nearly all the tickets have been sold and all the boxes ticked as Canada wrapped up their final training session on Friday, declaring the team ready to take on China in the opening match of the Women's World Cup.

After a week of being grilled about the corruption and bribery scandal that has rocked world soccer, talk finally turned to the pitch and Saturday's opener with a bullish Canadian coach John Herdman setting a lofty target.

"Are we favorites for this event? No. Can we get on a roll with our country behind us? Yes," Herdman told reporters.

"This group of women believe they can go all the way and they have a great purpose, they have a greater purpose than any other team at this event.

"And when you've got (that) it gives you a chance to go places you never thought you could get to. We play to win."

While Canada has undergone a meticulous buildup, there was a hint of the unknown hanging over Saturday's opener.

Which Canadian team will walk into Commonwealth Stadium to the cheers of close to 50,000?

Will it be the team that slumped out of the 2011 World Cup after failing to win a single game or the one that thrilled by taking an unexpected bronze at the 2012 London Olympics.   Continued...

Jun 5, 2015; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; The Chinese team practices on the day before the first game of the FIFA women's soccer World Cup games at Commonwealth Stadium between Canada and China.  Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports