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Terry Jones Article on WWC Draw

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They like what they C


By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

Draw. Bang. Bang. You're dead. That's the way it would have worked if this had been the draw for that other World Cup.

Draw. Bang. Bang. Germany. Argentina. Deceased. But this is the Women's World Cup and it's a different deal.

Draw. Bang. Bing. Bing. Ring-a-ding-ding.

Germany. Argentina. Japan.

That's the group Christine Sinclair, Kara Lang, Charmaine Hooper and Canada's girls of summer at the U.S. 2003 Women's World Cup have drawn.

And just about the only way Canada could have been happier would have been if their group was playing all their games in Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton in a co-hosting plan FIFA rejected.

"I have every reason to be pleased with the draw,'' said Canadian coach Even Pellerud via cellphone after finding out his fate.

"There is no reason to complain about this draw,'' he added prior to coaching his Canadians in a World Cup prep game against Brazil last night in Montreal.


Canada's Group C is certainly not a Group of Death. That would be Group A featuring its host U.S. With Sweden and North Korea, Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Tiffeny Milbrett and the defending-champion Americans landed in the toughest group of all.

Norway, the team Pellerud coached to the Women's World Cup title eight years ago, is also up against it with France and Brazil.

"Groups A & B are stronger,'' said Pellerud.

Canada was sitting in the catbird seat for starters, because of a technicality. Because they came out of CONCACAF, they could not end up in the same pool as the Americans.

Canada was going to get either China, Norway or Germany. Most observers would say six of one, half-dozen of the other when you compare those teams. If you could pick, you'd be picking your poison.

Many will pick Germany to make it to the final. The Frauleins went 6-0 and outscored European opposition 30-1 to qualify.

But two teams in each group get through and for draw purposes you're more concerned about the other two.

If Canada had to pick a country from Brazil, France, Sweden, North Korea. South Korea, Russia and Japan to take to their group, I submit they'd have chosen goal-challenged Japan in a heart-beat.

"Japan beat us 2-1 last year in France,'' cautioned Pellerud.

True. But that was before the cream of the team, which went to a golden goal in the final against the U.S. at the phenomenally successful FIFA U-19 Women's World Championships last year in Edmonton, was meshed with the best of the senior squad to create this club.

A better example would be using a common opponent. Canada recently beat Mexico 4-0 and 2-1 in Mexico. Japan tied Mexico 2-2 in Mexico two weeks later in the first game of a home-and-home series between third-place teams from Asia and CONCACAF playing for the final berth in the event.

"Argentina would be ranked fourth in our group,'' says Pellerud of one of those macho male countries where women's soccer was previously not supposed to be played in public. Until this Women's World Cup, South American has been restricted to one entry.


Japan would be the swing game.

"If we play to our level we should realistically beat Japan,'' is how Pellerud puts it.

"We need to perform, but we believe it's there for us to advance out of our group.''

Not only the draw is good, but so is the schedule.

Location. Location. Location.

The Canadians start in Columbus, Ohio, with Germany on Sept. 20 and stay in the same stadium to play Argentina Sept. 24.

Canada then moves on to Boston to play Japan Sept. 27.

With this draw, there is every expectation Canada will finally advance from group play and show up in Portland for a quarter-final (Oct. 2) and possibly even a semifinal (Oct. 5) also in Portland. The final is slated for Los Angeles Oct. 12.

"Columbus is wonderful,'' says Canadian Soccer Association CEO Kevan Pipe.

"To have our first two games in the same location is terrific. It's close to the Canadian border, about a five- or six-hour drive from Toronto. Plenty of Canadians can show up. The same with Boston from Montreal. And should we get to Portland, it would be the same for fans from Vancouver.''

Pipe says "it's a shame that Canada will play before 22,000 fans in Columbus instead of 55,000 or so in Edmonton.''

As it is, Canada will likely play before more fans in the deja vu going away game against Mexico Aug. 31 in Commonwealth Stadium (more than 40,000 are expected) than in any game at the Women's World Cup.

Ah, well, with almost as many people watching the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship final game on Sportsnet as watched some games of the Stanley Cup Final on CBC, these girls know Canada will be watching.

Eat your heart out Holger Osieck. This is Canada's soccer team now. Holger's Heroes have fallen off the radar screen. And it's all there for Even Pellerud's northern girls to write another special chapter.


"As soon as you're born you start dying,

So you might as well have a good time."

Sheep Go To Heaven - Cake

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