Just three days after dispatching England, Canada is back in action Monday as it takes on Nigeria in a women’s soccer friendly in Spain.
The game is intended to provide the fifth-ranked Canadian women a look at an African team. Canada opens World Cup play in June in France against No. 46 Cameroon before facing No. 19 New Zealand and the eighth-ranked Netherlands.
"Even though it’s a different opponent, there is a culture around the continent that’s the same, so that’s what we’re trying to expose ourselves to," Canada coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller said from Spain.
"It’ll be a great match against a team that is the African champion who is also at the World Cup. It’s not just an African opponent."
Nigeria, 11-time African champions, have qualified for all eight editions of the Women’s World Cup.
Canada is 0-1-1 against the Nigerians. Their last meeting was at the 2011 World Cup in Germany where Nigeria won 1-0 in a meaningless pool game given both teams had already missed out on the advancing to the knockout round.
Heiner-Moller does not expect to rotate his roster too much, despite the short turnaround. The Women’s World Cup is looming and he says there are still partnerships to perfect on the pitch.
Teams will be allowed six substitutions Monday and Heiner-Moller said his goal is to prevent players from playing back-to-back 90 minutes.
Defender Shelina Zadorsky, a 26-year-old from London, Ont., who plays for the Orlando Pride, is set to earn her 50th cap for Canada on Monday.
"It’s very quick to be at 50 caps but … she’s doing very well," said the Canada coach.
On Friday, captain Christine Sinclair scored career goal No. 180 to lift Canada past No. 3 England at Manchester’s Academy Stadium.
The 35-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., is now just four goals back of retired American Abby Wambach’s world record of 184.
The win was a measure of revenge for the Canadian women, who were knocked out of the 2015 World Cup by England in a 2-1 quarterfinal loss in Vancouver. The teams had not met since.
The Canadian women are unbeaten in six games (4-0-2) in 2019 and have yet to concede a goal.
Canada will play a pre-tournament match against Mexico in Toronto on May 18.