Canada will get another kick at England prior to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. However, the Canadian team is not heading into the game looking to exact revenge. They are just looking to finish the job. TSN.ca Producer Shane McNeil spoke to Team Canada vet Jonelle Filigno about the match-up.
Canada will get another kick at England prior to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The national team’s last home friendly prior to the World Cup is coming to Hamilton on May 29, against the English team that defeated them 1-0 in the Cyprus Cup Final just last week.
However, the Canadian team is not heading into the game looking to exact revenge. They are just looking to finish the job.
“I think we were ready for them in the final of the Cyprus Cup, I just think we were a little unlucky,” Canadian forward Jonelle Filigno told TSN on Tuesday. “We felt as though we were the more dominant team, so it just gave us a pit in our stomach that we don’t want to have, especially in this World Cup.”
Filigno, 24, was featured in Canada’s three group stage matches in the international invitational, but didn’t draw into the Final match-up. But instead of focusing on the loss, she looks at the match as an opportunity to measure up to a top-ranked team before bracing for the world on home soil.
“It’s actually a good feeling to know we’re coming from a loss and we still get a chance to play them leading into this final match before we go into our group stage,” Filigno explained. “It’s actually really exciting to know we have this rematch against them before we go into the World Cup.”
While the Cyprus Cup may not register as a big deal among Canada’s casual soccer fans, the competition it provided Canada was a necessary stepping stone towards being game-ready for the World Cup. Since Canada automatically qualified for the tournament as hosts, they have not been afforded the same tests their competitors have endured through qualification tournaments.
Cyprus Cup victories over Top-20 squads like Italy and South Korea and the coming world tune-ups against England – as well as visiting the third-ranked French team on Apr. 9 – allow the team to transition from the bronze-medal winners that many Canadians last watched in 2012 to the World Cup hopefuls that will emerge at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium on June 6.
“They’re really important because we’re so close to it and everything needs to fall into place now for us,” Filigno said of the slate of friendlies.
The secret to success in the World Cup, though, could come down to the team’s recent infusion of youth. Midfielder Ashley Lawrence is one of six players currently on Canada’s roster that has progressed through the U-17 or U-20 ranks since the London Games. A starter in the Cyprus Cup Final, she believes that the young players are making a difference on the existing core.
“It’s been great being in that environment and having leaders that we look up to, but also it’s kind of a give-and-take,” Lawrence said. “We learn a lot from them but hopefully they learn from us.
“I’m excited to see how we mesh together and how that connection grows.”
For Filigno – one of 13 London Olympians currently on Canada’s active roster – the match in Hamilton and the World Cup beyond will be about stepping into the team’s bright future. “The youth that has brought a different dynamic to the team and John (Canada head coach John Herdman) has even said that there’re better quality players this time around,” she said. “There’s more talent this time around, it feels like.
“These young players are the future for us and they’re unbelievable, both on and off the field, it’s amazing.”
The friendly promises an important stepping stone for a team that endeared the nation during the 2012 Summer Olympics. And the pressure to perform in 2015 will be amplified in front of their own fans.
Filigno, who’s from nearby Mississauga, believes that the Hamilton tune-up will provide many players on the team a boost in the run-up to the World Cup. And playing near the Greater Toronto Area will be special because neither Toronto nor Hamilton are among the six cities serving hosting World Cup matches.
“It’s really nice for players like us from around Toronto to have this because – I’ll be completely honest – it was a bit of a dagger to not have [any games] in Toronto,” she said. “There are so many fans and it’s really nice to be able to bring those fans to this game. It’s kind of like the opening match for them, to have it here. I know a lot of them will probably travel to Ottawa or Montreal but it’s really nice to have [this game] and to have all of our family and friends there for this game.”
Another go at England for Filigno offers the chance to perfect a formula on the pitch that has already begun to produce results.
“The Cyprus Cup was probably the first time that I had that sense of a strong connection like we did in the Olympics,” she explained. “Although we didn’t win the Final, [there] was such a good positive feeling coming out of it.”