TORONTO -- The pressure of playing at home, in the biggest match of their young careers, proved costly for Canadas under-20 womens soccer team Tuesday. . The Canadians dropped a 1-0 decision to Ghana in the opening game for both teams of the FIFA U-20 Womens World Cup, a disappointing result for a host team thats hoping to go far in this tournament. "This is our first major tournament, and also its at home, we had a lot of people in the stands for us. It was a little added pressure," said forward Nichelle Prince. "We knew it was coming, but its kind of different when you step on the field, and we had to get adjusted to that. It took us a few minutes to do that." Sherifatu Sumaila scored the games lone goal in the 22nd minute against a Canadian team that was on its heels in the early going. Sumaila capitalized on a cross from Edem Atovor, pouncing on a rebound after Canadas keeper Kailen Sheridan had pushed a shot away. "I dont think it was too much pressure, but it was certainly new pressure," said Canadian coach Andrew Olivieri. "The biggest word right now is adapt for them." Olivieri also said it was "a bit of a curse" not having to go through a qualifying tournament prior to the World Cup -- Canada automatically qualified as the host country. So Canada was lacking big-game experience ". . . not playing in big matches that you have to win. So this is the first match theyre faced with the need to get a result," he said. Some 14,834 fans turned out to the National Soccer Stadium -- or BMO Field to its regular tenants, Major League Soccers Toronto FC. The crowd was predominantly red and white, but was dotted with numerous Ghana flags. And a large pocket of Ghana fans stood all game long, dancing and banging drums, their singing growing in volume as the night wore on. If the Ghana fans numbered 1,000, they made it sound like they were 10,000. "We have so many Ghanaians here, they have made us feel at home, and we have felt it," said Ghanas coach Bashir Hayford. "When we advance, when we progress, the number will be quadrupled." Canada brought a different energy to the second half, and a "different quality from all the players." "Thats part of the learning experience, players getting adapted to playing in front of the home crowd, a lot of expectation, a World Cup first for many of them, so it took us too long to adapt," he said. Canada had 55 per cent of the possession against the bigger and faster Ghanaians, and had several decent scoring opportunities. Emma Fletcher banged a shot off the post late in the first half, while Prince, a second-half substitute, beat two defenders to get off a left-footed shot while falling down. The shot went straight into the hands of Ghanas goalkeeper Victoria Agyei. Kadeisha Buchanan, a regular on John Herdmans Canadian senior side, was solid on the back line, and almost scored in injury time, poking at a loose ball during a scramble in front of the net that shot over the crossbar. Asked if he was pleased with his teams performance, Olivieri answered "Nope." "Id say I was pleased with the energy and lot with what the players brought in the later stages, when we were more desperate," he said. "Id love to see better from us, certainly early in the game. A lot more progressive play, a lot more play towards the front, and just a lot more confidence." Sheridan, a keeper Clemson University, said there was added pressure playing on the tournaments first day, and against a strong team such as Ghana. "But I think thats something you have to deal with," she said. "(The crowd) was great, it was crazy walking down the tunnel and seeing all the fans," she added. "It was nice to be in our home country and on our home turf for the first time for me. It just gave me a rush. I was coming (down the tunnel) and I couldnt stop smiling." The Canadians best showing at this tournament came in 2002 when they lost to the United States in the gold-medal game in Edmonton -- the beginning of international careers for the likes of Christine Sinclair and Kara Lang, who would go on to become household names in Canada. Both Canada and Ghana were knocked out in group phase two years ago in Japan. The Canadian team is predominantly all new faces from that 2012 squad, and is mostly made up of players attending U.S. colleges. Ghana has a few returnees from its U20 team two years ago, plus several players who were part of its third-place team at the U17 World Cup in 2012. They come from Ghana club teams such as Fabulous Ladies, Blessed Ladies, and Police Ladies. Canada next plays Finland on Friday in Toronto, then heads to Montreal to face North Korea on Tuesday. The Canadians need to finish top two in Group A to advance to the quarter-finals. The Group A winners will play the quarter-final in Toronto, while second place in the group will head to Edmonton for the quarters. The tournament semifinals are in Montreal and Moncton, N.B., while Montreal hosts the gold-medal game. North Korea beat Finland 2-1 in the earlier Group A game Tuesday. . -- Martin Kaymer never lost sight of opportunity even amid so much evidence of trouble in the closing stretch Sunday at The Players Championship. . PETERSBURG, Fla.GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The gangs back together, mostly, for the Packers in the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb pulled off a fourth-down stunner last week against the Chicago Bears in each players first game back from injury. Now imagine what Green Bay can do with the franchise quarterback and speedy receiver practicing without limitations for a full week, joining Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Eddie Lacy on the list of playmakers. Just in time for Sundays matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in an NFC wild-card game. "Its going to be tough for defences to play us, the way theyre going to approach the game as far as are they going to try to take the pass away, or are they going to try to take the run away," Cobb said Wednesday. "So, we (pose) a pretty obvious threat, I think." No need to think about it. After a roller-coaster season, the Packers (8-7-1) are brimming with confidence. They took the NFC North title by winning three of their last four games, and getting help from collapses by the Lions and Bears. Rodgers and Cobb helped seal a third straight division crown by connecting on an unlikely 48-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-8 with 38 seconds left. With Rodgers back, anything is possible. "He runs our offence at a very, very high level," coach Mike McCarthy said. "When hes on the field were different." That left collarbone injury that kept him out for seven games is fine, so much so that McCarthy has no worries about him for practice this week. McCarthy isnt worried about the leg injury that kept Cobb out, either. In fact, Rodgers was bothered more by cramping in his calves. He was facing his first game action in nearly two months. But Rodgers said his legs are fine, too. "Well, myself and Randall are back, that helps. We had a couple good connections on Sunday. Its doing the stuff we want to do," Rodgers said. "We want to be an up-ttempo team, we want to get a lot of plays run, we want to try to wear the defence down a little bit. . " Rodgers impact on the offence is a no-brainer. The 2011 NFL MVP excels as a decision maker and can make pinpoint throws for big plays. But Cobbs recovery from his October injury got lost in the soap opera surrounding when Rodgers might come back. Cobb may not be at full speed, but just his mere presence and versatility might cause defenders to think twice about what might be coming. Against the Bears, he manoeuvred his way open for two touchdown catches. When Cobb was out, Jordy Nelson moved inside and Jarrett Boykin emerged as another competent receiver. "Randall does so much for our offence. We can give him the ball, we can get it to him quickly out of the backfield. We can have him in the slot," Rodgers said. "So, bringing Randall back with the way those guys can be interchangeable at different positions definitely has a lot to offer." Theres also the matter of Cobbs quickness, and his ability to turn a screen pass into a 20-yard gain. Toss in the emergence of rooking running back Lacy and the hard running of backup James Starks, the Packers have that offensive balance the team sought at the beginning of a season that started with a 34-28 loss at San Francisco. Note: As of Tuesday afternoon, the Packers had roughly 7,500 tickets left for Sundays playoff game. About 40,000 available seats went on sale Monday, about 12 hours after the team locked up a playoff berth, with season-ticket holders getting first crack. A spokesman said the team was optimistic the game would sell out. "These are the games our fans live for, so I really have no concern about it at all," McCarthy said. ... The National Weather Service in Green Bay has said the high temperature Sunday could range from zero to 10 degrees with an arctic front pushing through the Midwest. ' ' '
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07 déc. 2019
The pressure of playing
The pressure of playing