by Ciara McCormack
In my last post, we talked about the dispute between the English FA and the players on central contracts for the English National Team, as well as addressed the upcoming Four Nations Tournament. Here is an update on both:
England Women Contract Update
Firstly, England women’s team have signed a new central contract for £20,000, £4,000 more than they were receiving in their last contract. For more details on their new contract and how the players are feeling about it: Click Here . With 208 comments currently posted under the story, it seems to be a controversial topic.
Four Nations Tournament
So far the theme seems to be change, both for the Canadians and Norwegians. For China, they seem to be still struggling to regain the dominance that they enjoyed a decade ago, as they have been edged thus far by identical scores of 1-0 by both the Canadians and Norwegians. South Korea have had varied performances: a 1-0 loss to Norway, followed by a 3-1 win over Canada.
Norway v South Korea: 2-0 win for Norway (Goals: Elise Thornes (29th minute) and Leni Kaurin (76 minute).
This first game marked the beginning of Even Pellerud’s second time at the helm of the Norwegian WNT. So, after 8 training sessions in 3 days, the players were ready to impress their new coach. According to Pellerud (via www.fotball.no) “This was a good start, a good match. Well played and a well deserved result. We had most of the scoring chances.”
Pellerud seemed determined to imprint his mark on the team, as he only started three players (Marit Fiane Christensen, Ingvild Isaksen and Elise Thorsnes) that were in the decisive game versus Iceland in the fall to win a spot for the EUROS.
Norway’s match also marked the first caps for Ida Elise Enget (Stabaek), Melissa Bjanesoy (Sandviken) and Cathrine Dekkerhus (Stabaek).
Canada v China: 1-0 win for Canada (Goals: Adriana Leon (75th minute)
Canada also started a new looking line up, with six players making their debut for Canada and despite their youth, they were rewarded with a win, as Adriana Leon showed her promise with the decisive strike for the Canadians in the 75th minute in her first senior cap (Kadeisha Buchanan, Tiffany Cameron, Nichelle Prince, Ashley Lawrence and Cristabel Oduro being the others receiving their first caps).
For a match report, lineups for both China and Canada, highlights and a post-game interview with Leon: Click Here
Herdman was happy with his young team’s performance, despite admitting that China could have scored a couple of goals in the first half:
“I didn’t think we would come this far today,” said Herdman to Canada Soccer, following the match at the Yongchuan Olympic Center.
South Korea v Canada: 3-1 win for South Korea
Canada started a different lineup for their second match against South Korea. Coach John Herdman changed all four starters in the back line and replaced Erin McLeod with Karina Leblanc in goal. Shelina Zadorsky received her first cap at center back in the match, while everything in the midfield and forward line stayed the same as the first game, with the exception of Kaylyn Kyle replacing Desiree Scott in midfield. Herdman again went with his young forward combination of Jodi Ann Robinson, Adriana Leon and Christabel Oduro.
Herdman’s prediction that there would be some bumps in the road as the team looked to integrate youth and focus on possession proved prophetic as the team was taken down by a South Korean side that had lost their first game to Norway. The one bright spot for the Canadians was the goal scored by 17 year old Nichelle Prince, who has proven to be dangerous throughout the tournament thus far.
For match report and highlights: Click Here
Norway v China: 1-0 win for China
Similar to the Canadian game against the Chinese, the decisive strike came toward the end of the game from a young up and coming striker in one of her first caps. This time, in her second game for the Nordic country, Melissa Bjanesoy, a speedy striker who plays her club ball for mid-table Sandviken in the Norwegian Toppserien, knocked in the winning goal, seven minutes after coming on, with a goal in the 88th minute.
For match highlights watch here (at the beginning and end, including Bjanesoy’s goal at the beginning). If you are fluent in Cantonese feel free to let us know what China’s coaching staff had to say about their performance: Click Here
So far Norway’s shutouts have come with Ingrid Ryland (Arna-Bjornar), Marit Fiane Christensen (Amazon Grimstad) and Nora Holstad Berge (Arna-Bjornar) playing a full 90 in each match.
Looking ahead: Final Match-Up
Right now Norway leads the standings with a full 6 points from 2 games, while South Korea and Canada sit tied for second with 3 points a piece, with the South Koreans in second due to a better goal differential. China with two straight 1-0 losses sits in last with no points.
The decisive match will be Norway versus Canada, as with a win, the Canadians can walk away with first place.
From a stylistic standpoint it will be interesting, as Herdman has said that he wants the Canadians to employ their new system of playing the ball out of the back, while Pellerud seems to be employing the highly direct style that he took Canada to a top four finish with in 2003. While Herdman has taken the pressure off of results by saying that this tournament for the Canadians is about development, I would expect to see Pellerud looking for a win in his first tournament with the team this decade.
Therefore, I anticipate the Norwegians punishing the Canadians playing out of the back, with their speed up top with players such as Pedersen and Bjanesoy. That being said, one cannot overlook the emotion factor as the Canadian players will no doubt not roll over easy for their former coach. With Herdman looking to give his young players experience, I would say a positive result from this game would be an unexpected surprise.
South Korea will look to finish the tournament building off their strong performance against the Canadians, while China will look to start the year off with an important confidence boost in beating their regional foe.
My predictions for the final game?
Norway-Canada: 3-1 win for Norway
South Korea-China: 1-1 tie.