Olympic champions Canada went to the 2023 Women’s World Cup, hoping to progress through the competition. In reality, the team did not make it out of the group stages. Canada only needed a draw against Australia to advance from Group B. But fans and players were shell-shocked as they went down to a 4-0 defeat.
The game was only ever going to end one way right from the start. Australia needed a win to be certain of progression, and it showed. They dominated the play throughout, leading to the Olympic Champions exiting the World Cup.
Canada vs Australia – a one-sided contest
A closer look at the Canada vs. Australia game shows just how one-sided the contest was. The Canadian defense struggled as Hayley Raso scored twice in the first half. Meanwhile, Canada did not have a shot on target before the half-time whistle.
Eight minutes into the second half, Mary Fowler made it 3-0 to the Matildas. A penalty in stoppage time led to the final 4-0 scoreline and bitter disappointment for Canada.
After the game, Canadian midfielder Sophie Schmidt spoke of her disappointment, especially as she had previously stated her intention to retire from international football after the competition. She spoke of being “gutted, heartbroken.” Defender Vanessa Giles echoed the disappointment while also crediting the Australian team. She said, “The Aussies outdid us today; there’s no hiding from that.” Fans who watched their team leave the competition share the players’ disappointment as they expected much better.
A terrible end to the World Cup hopes of the Canadians
Their Olympic triumph gave the Canadian team, and players hope of a decent World Cup performance. But they were never in the top 10 favorites to win the competition, according to pre-World Cup betting. The team’s odds put them at an average of 12th place in the betting at the best online casinos in Ontario and across international sportsbooks.
Despite these odds, the Canadians were ranked seventh in the world before the World Cup. This placed them ahead of Australia at number 10. The rankings proved to have no impact on the eventual result.
Being soundly beaten may not have been the end for Canada if Nigeria had beaten Ireland. Unfortunately for the Canadian team and players, this was not to be, and Canada exited the World Cup.
To make matters worse, this is Canada’s worst finish in the Women’s World Cup since the team finished last in 2011. That year they didn’t win a match. This time around, they managed a 1-1-1 record which is better but not considerably. They are the first defending Olympic champions not to progress from the initial round of the World Cup.
Despite the disappointment in Canada around the team’s World Cup exit, the news has not caused as much surprise across the world as the favorites USA leaving the competition, a departure that was completely unexpected.
Canada’s performance may be a surprise, but it’s less shocking, given the team’s background recently. The team has been involved in a bitter labor dispute with Canada Soccer this year which is bound to have been something of a distraction for the players. However, coach Bev Priestman downplayed the impact the dispute had on the team. The coach admitted that it had been a bad year for the team off the pitch but said the players had still come into the game against Australia believing they could win and had failed.
Despite the coach’s comments, there is no doubt that the pressure of off-pitch issues, coupled with the expectations attached to Olympic champions, contributed to Canada’s World Cup demise. Going forward, there are still reasons to be optimistic.
The future for the Canadian women’s team
The World Cup exit is a setback, but the Canadians have the opportunity to bounce back when they take on Jamaica in a two-leg Olympic qualifier. Arguably, the current team has more strength in depth than the one that triumphed at the Olympics last time out, and Jamaica is yet to qualify for an Olympic competition.
However, the Canadian team will not take anything for granted after the game against Australia. They will be well-prepared for the away leg in Jamaica on September 22, 2023. They will also be glad to have home advantage for the 2nd leg, which will be played on September 26, 2023. Canada will be determined to qualify for the Olympics and put the disappointment of the World Cup behind them.
If you look at the current world rankings, Canada should triumph against Jamaica. The Canadian team is ranked at number 7, while the Jamaican team is down the list at number 43. However, after the unexpected exit from the World Cup, Canada will not be taking anything for granted.