There was absolutely no way that the Canadian Women’s National Team was not going to be in a Group of Death.
Eight of the 12 national sides that were in the Olympic draw are currently in the top 12 of FIFA’s rankings. So, the process of mathematical probability told us before the Thursday’s draw that all three Olympic groups would be as tough as nails.
Canada will open the Olympics against No. 5 Australia. The group also features No. 2 Germany and Zimbabwe, the team Canada will be expected to beat handily — even though women’s national-team coach John Herdman cautioned that the level of soccer in Africa is rapidly improving.
Herdman compared Canada’s group to what the team faced at the 2012 London Games, where it finished with a bronze medal. In Canada’s group was No. 3 Japan and No. 5 Sweden.
But a lot will ride on that opening game vs. Australia. Canada may indeed get out of the group even if it loses that opening match — as three teams will advance from two of the three groups — but that game will also influence the seeding. The lower Canada finishes, the harder the route to the semifinals.
Canada hasn’t faced Australia very often; in 2015, Canada beat the Aussies 2-0 in a closed-door friendly. But Herdman said that game can’t be treated as a serious assessment of the competition.
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