By JENNA FRYER
The Associated Press
PARIS — Inspired by Canada’s first NBA title, the country’s national women’s soccer team is aiming to emulate the Toronto Raptors’ magical run.
The fifth-ranked Canadians were fast asleep in France when the Raptors won early Friday morning. But the players copped to immediately checking the results the moment they awoke.
“We’re very excited for the Raptors. It’s massive for Canada,” midfielder Sophie Schmidt said. “The first thing we did when we woke up was check our phones. That’s massive for Canada and we’re hoping to get the result and have another success story for Canadians to celebrate.”
Next up for Canada is a Group E match today against New Zealand at Stade des Alpes in Grenoble. Canada won its opener 1-0 over Cameroon, while New Zealand lost to the Netherlands 1-0.
Video review, which is being used at the Women’s World Cup for the first time, came in for some criticism from New Zealand coach Tom Sermanni on Friday.
“Can I be honest? Hopefully I can say this without any disrespect to anybody, I’ve been a bit disappointed in it,” he said. “I think the idea is great. But I think sometimes the concept and idea, when it works out, as it comes out, is not always fantastic. My concerns would be I think it’s stopped the flow of the games a lot. I think it has taken an inordinate amount of time over decisions that are incredibly marginal. I think it’s made some very poor decisions.”
Canada and New Zealand met four years ago in the World Cup in Edmonton, Canada, a match temporarily halted for lightning. The teams played to a 0-0 draw.
“I just remember it being a very tough match,” Schmidt said. “New Zealand shut us down, didn’t give us an inch. And I’m expecting similar from them, that they’re going to be fighting, not giving up on anything, dangerous, and we’re going to have to be at our best and put in a good performance to get a result.”
— CAMEROON-NETHERLANDS: The first match today, a Group E game between the Netherlands and Cameroon at Stade du Hainaut in Valenciennes, could earn the Netherlands a spot in the round of 16.
The Netherlands opened the tournament by beating New Zealand and will have Anouk Dekker back from suspension and will likely return to the starting lineup.
Cameroon played well defensively in its opening loss to Canada, but it will take an increased effort against the European champions to avoid falling to 0-2 in the tournament. The Cameroonians struggled with possession and coach Alain Djeumfa is likely to rotate his lineup to spark offense.