Neil Davidson, Canadian Press
Canada will face Australia, Ireland and Nigeria in the group stage of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will be held simultaneously in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20.
“It’s getting real!!!”, Canadian defender Vanessa Gilles wrote on Twitter.
Saturday’s draw in Auckland, New Zealand, was relatively favorable for the Canadians. Ranked seventh in the FIFA rankings, they are drawn in Group B alongside Australia, avoiding several “heavyweight” nations.
Of the eight nations named in pot No.1, only New Zealand (22nd) is lower in the FIFA rankings than Australia (13th). Pot No. 1 brought together the two host nations and six of the world’s highest-ranked nations.
In addition, Canada will play all matches in Australia, including duels that could be played in the elimination phase, thus avoiding travel to New Zealand.
“I’m excited,” Canadian team head coach Bev Priestman from Auckland said of the draw. “It could be worse, it could be better.”
Canada beat Australia twice in September, 1-0 and 2-1 in Brisbane and Sydney respectively. Since the start of the 21st century, Canada has posted a 6-2-2 record against Australia.
Ireland, ranked 24th, will make their World Cup debut. The only match between Canada and Ireland in 2014 was a 2-1 win for the Canadians.
However, Canada’s draw was a bit underwhelming as Nigeria, ranked 45th in the FIFA rankings, were the highest-rated team among the nations named in Jar No. 4.
Nigeria has never been knocked out of the World Cup and reached the quarter-finals in 1999. Canada is 2-1-2 against the Nigerians in their lifetime record, including a 2-0 and 2-2 draw in two friendlies. Last April in British Columbia.
“Nigeria are a very difficult team to play against,” admitted Priestman.
Two of the other three matches between Canada and Nigeria were played at the World Cup. In 1995, the two countries drew 3-3. Canada lost 1-0 in a disastrous last-place tournament in 2011.
Canada will play their first group stage match against Nigeria on July 21 at the Melbourne Quadrangular Stadium.
Five days later, the Canadians travel to Perth to cross swords with Ireland. Then on July 31, Melbourne square will face the Australian team.
The top two teams at the end of the group stage will qualify for the elimination stage. The two nations from Group B will then face the two nations that have qualified from Group D.
So if the Canadians top the Group B standings, they will battle the second-placed Group D holders in the Round of 16 on August 7 in Sydney. If they finish second, they will face Group D’s top-placed club on August 7, but in Brisbane.
Group D includes England (4th in the world), China (15th) and Denmark (18th). The fourth country will be known after the eliminatory tournament in February 2023.
Priestman also admitted Canada’s aim is to top their group to avoid a meeting with England, a club having a good time beating the world number one Americans last month.
If the Canadians reach the quarterfinals, they could face third-ranked Germany or fifth-ranked France.
Canada’s best performance at the Women’s World Cup in 2003 was a fourth-place finish in the US.
Travel fan. Freelance analyst. Proud problem solver. Infuriatingly humble zombie junkie.