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Herdman: Canada "not quite there yet"
By Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER - John Herdman says Canada isn't good enough to win the women's World Cup at the moment, but the team's head coach adds it "absolutely" will be by the time the country hosts the tournament in 2015.
Herdman made the comments on Friday morning at an event to mark the one-year countdown to the FIFA showcase that will be played in six cities across Canada.
"At this point, no. I'll be blunt about that," Herdman said when asked if Canada is good enough to win the tournament right now. "In a year's time, yes absolutely. We're close. We're getting closer.
"We are getting closer in many things, but we're not quite there yet. That's why we've got a year to get that ready."
Those preparations include a friendly for the senior team against Germany on June 18 in Vancouver and the women's under-20 World Cup, which Canada will host in August.
Herdman predicted Canada would play the United States in the women's World Cup final on July 5, 2015, at B.C. Place Stadium, and made no apologies when a reporter suggested that might be a bold proclamation.
"You've got a home World Cup in Canada, you've got one chance to do this for the country," said Herdman. "It might never come around in our lifetimes again, so what are you going to say? 'Oh we're going to go try our best?' We're always going to try our best. You expect anyone who pulls a Canadian shirt on to do that. If we've got one chance to do this, we're going to go try and win it.
"We're not going to hide from that."
The challenge for Herdman and his staff is one that has plagued Canadian coaches of both the men's and women's teams for years — where is the offence going to come from? The team has relied on star striker Christine Sinclair since way back in 2000, but she will need help if Canada is going to have any chance of raising the women's World Cup trophy on home soil.
"It's the little details now of scoring goals. We know that we'll defend as a team," said Herdman. "We know that we'll fight and we'll battle. It's about the craft now against those top teams of carving out more opportunities and scoring goals. We've been working towards that."
Canada, currently ranked seventh in the FIFA rankings, was named as the host country for the women's World Cup more than three years ago and Herdman said the pressure is beginning to ramp up with just 12 months to go.
"I'm starting to get those pre-wedding day nerves now ... can't run away from this one," the Englishman said with a laugh. "It is getting real and it's intensifying in our environment as well. You're starting to get serious about the squad, identifying people that need to be on the bus, starting to look at how we absolutely make sure we leave no stone left unturned.
"It's almost like the big exams are coming around the corner and people are really starting to focus in now and get their heads into what it's going to take."
One of the players Herdman is high on for the upcoming under-20 tournament is defender Kadeisha Buchanan. The 18-year-old from Toronto has already played for the senior team and will be a big part of Canada's chances this summer, and quite possibly again in 2015.
"I smile every time I talk about Kadeisha because she's just a kid that loves it," said Herdman. "She absolutely loves it and no challenge is too big, nothing's too stressful. She just loves her sport. She's had a tough background and she appreciates everything she gets."
Canada won bronze at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, but it was the controversial semifinal loss to the United States that grabbed the nation's attention.
Herdman is hoping next summer's group will create some new memories, beginning with his team's first game a year from Friday at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium.
"We'll be ready to connect the country again around some amazing moments," said Herdman. "We'll laugh together, we'll chew our fingernails together, we'll cry together ... and hopefully this time it will be tears of joy."