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Favourites or Underdogs? Does Canada have what it takes to go all the way?

Canada arrive to the World Cup as current Olympic champions and, after recent success in Tokayo, they will look to continue this form in host countries Australia and New Zealand.

Canada were eliminated last time out in France where they failed to progress past the round of 16 at the hands of a 1-0 defeat agaisnt Sweden. Despite this dissapointment in 2019, Canada's expectations still remain high to reach the knockout stages and compete with the impressive squad depth they now have available to them.

Manager Bev Priestman says that the players she has "makes for an exciting squad to lead"' with the likes of youngtser Jade Rose being a player to keep an eye on after she demonstrated great composure in 2022 to stop Sam Kerr in a friendly verses Australia. Rose has great potential to build upon these performances on the mainstage, where she will be deployed to prevent Kerr from scoring once more. Canada will be filled with great confidence after beating both Australia and Nigeria in friendly matches during 2022 and will favour their chances to get the better of these two sides again in an attempt to top their group.

With all this optimism in mind, what is it that could let Canada down?

Canada have been at the centre of a lot of publicity over the past few months, in particular Bev Priestman, as issues over pay equity in the women's game remains to be a problem.

Reports suggest Priestman was considering her future in charge of Canada after the unsettlement between players and federation caused noise in the media. With this issue, it's argued that Canada have had their World Cup preparations hindered. As a consequence of media distraction, the team haven't played internationally since April, but have been rumoured to have scheduled a game against a team of boys to prepare themselves.

One player that embodies the Canada team is captain Christine Sinclair, who is another figure that has outrightly spoken against their federation amid pay equity and funding cuts towards the women's team. Sinclair has said that the players are going to the "World Cup to win it" and won't lose their focus or strike out by not attending the competition to make a point that the federation aren't being fair. Sinclair is one of the biggest names in women's football and aims to become the first player to score at six consecutive World Cups to support her team with winning the prestigious trophy. The captains comments suggests that, regardless of the minimal preparation, the Canadian squad are mentally and physically prepared to play their football and place high.

Only time will tell if this Canada team is in Australia and New Zealand to challenge. With speculation over their lack of preparation but recent success at the Olympics, it's difficult to depict where Canada lie in comparison to the likes of European champions, England, and current World champions, the USA, who will both fancy their odds to win. Canada face Nigeria on the 21st of July, the second game in Group B, as Australia take on the Republic of Ireland the day before on the 20th.

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