Hooper ends Sweden's reign of terror
|Now we’re going into games like this knowing that if we play well, we can beat any team on any given day – Timko
Canada (women) recorded its landmark first victory over Sweden in impressive 4–2 fashion in Blaine, Minnesota, July 18. Over 2,200 attended the match, held in conjunction with Schwan’s USA Cup, which itself attracted 550 teams from 17 countries. The win ends a drought of one tie and nine losses to the 2003 World Cup finalist, who last beat Canada 2–1 in the 2003 World Cup Semi-final.
|Sure, we finally kicked some butt on the field but will Canada ever best the Swedes in the stands... we can only dream!
Hat trick Hooper
Canadian captain Charmaine Hooper scored two early goals (16', 20') in a cleanly played and exciting match that featured 22 combined shots on net, one of which Sweden’s Victoria Svensson used in the 36th minute to halve Canada's lead.
After the break Canada shocked the Swedes with two goals in 60 seconds (58', 59'), via Hooper’s third strike and a Christine Sinclair goal off a defence-splitting pass from midfielder Brittany Timko.
Canada used three forwards for most of the game, starting Martina Franko up front with Hooper and Sinclair. After the game Hooper noted, "It was a great win for us because we’ve never beaten Sweden before, and any win is a great confidence booster for us. We’re trying to grow as a team and we get a chance to beat the second best team in the world!”
Is there a bad time to score?
After the match coach Even Pellerud
commented, “We scored at really good times for us and by that kept the momentum but I have a lot of respect for the Swedish team because they kept coming back and never gave up.”
Pellerud felt a key to the win was quick counterattacks and willingness to go forward, “Sweden is now much more of a passing team than in the past. We tried to take advantage of that, intercept more balls and go quickly to attack.”
Players expressed satisfaction in that the win represented an important developmental step on the road to the 2006 CONCACAF Gold Cup
in November, which serves as a qualifier for the 2007 World Cup
Hooper said, “It’s a great confidence booster. So we know we can take it to the next step just by a little bit of hard work.”
A Canadian revelation
Timko echoed the veterans feelings, “It’s a big win for us. Sweden is one of the top four to five teams in the world and we played a really strong game tonight. It gives us more confidence going into our training for the Gold Cup. A couple of years ago, we’d go into this game just hoping to play well. Now we’re going into games like this knowing that if we play well, we can beat any team on any given day.”
Pellerud was pleased that his team remained undefeated in 2006 (five wins and one tie) especially since he has 10 roster players out with injuries. He noted that the team would be together full-time for training and friendly matches two and a half months ahead of the Gold Cup. On the basis of last night’s display the team looked dynamic, fluid and powerful. They clearly are on track for World Cup qualification and another Semi-final in 2007.
ARTICLE: ©2006 World Football Pages/Tim Grainey, PHOTO (Timko): ©Bill Fowle
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