OTTAWA — Canada’s women’s soccer team hopes to recapture past Olympic glory as it sets its sights on qualifying for the next World Cup.
The fifth-ranked Canadians host No. 7 Brazil in a friendly Sept. 2 at Ottawa’s TD place. It’s a rematch of the third-place game of the 2016 Rio Games , when Canada won 2-1 on the Brazilians’ home turf home turf to claim its second straight Olympic bronze medal.
"Our goal this year is to play as many highest ranked teams we can, so to get a top-10 team to come to Canada is a big deal for us," forward Janine Beckie said Monday. "We’re excited and looking forward to a big crowd."
The friendly will serve as preparation for the 2018 CONCACAF World Cup qualification tournament in October in the United States, and the Canadians hope home-field advantage will give them momentum heading into those crucial games.
"It’s incredibly important as we tend to play really well at home," Beckie said. "We’re really inspired playing in front of our home fans and with qualifying on the horizon so soon it’s great to see as many different styles as possible. With a South American team you get a bit of a different style than someone like Germany so just trying to get as much versatility as we can before qualifying."
Canada is 3-3-0 this season, with all three losses coming against highly ranked teams, most recently a 3-2 loss to No. 2 Germany last month in Hamilton.
"We learned a lot from our meeting against Germany," head coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller said in a telephone interview. "That meeting gave us some answers about how we can play and perform against Tier 1 teams. We continue to build. This will be the last friendly before the qualifier and the energy from the crowd should give us a boost."
Heiner-Moller, who took over as head coach in January when John Herdman moved to the men’s program, believes Canada’s versatility is its key to success.
"We continue to build, but this group is probably the most adaptable," Heiner-Moller said. "We can change the way we play, we can change our structure and we’re adaptable to the opposition."
The last time Canada and Brazil met at TD place, Beckie scored a late goal in a 1-0 Canadian victory in front of a crowd of 23,588. Beckie said it’s important for all Canadian teams to be able to compete in high-profile games at home.
"I think it’s pivotal for soccer in Canada for the women’s national team and the men’s national team to be playing at home for young kids to see the level that they aspire to get at some day and to see how soccer in Canada is growing and how different it is from even ten years ago," Beckie said. "The World Cup in 2015 was incredible for us and we’ve just taken steps from there. We love playing in front of our fans and it might be the game that a little girl falls in love with soccer and that’s all we ask."