DRESDEN, Germany — The Canadian women’s soccer team will be looking to regain pride on Tuesday and close the FIFA Women’s World Cup on a high note when it faces Nigeria.
Both Canada and Nigeria have been eliminated from the knockout phase of the competition, but Canadian striker Jonelle Filigno hopes to close the tournament with a positive result.
“When we play Nigeria, we want to prove to ourselves, our country, and our fans that we’re capable of more. We have more ability than we’ve shown so far,” Filigno told FIFA.com in the lead up to the final game in Group A.
Germany and France won their first two group games and have clinched spots in the quarter-finals and will battle Tuesday for first in the group. Canada and Nigeria, meanwhile, will be trying to avoid the indignity of finishing last in the group.
The Canadians came into the tournament with high expectations — with a trip to the final four a realistic goal. Canada had made it that far before, finishing fourth at the 2003 tournament.
The Canadians entered on a roll, defeating Mexico for the CONCACAF title this year and were ranked sixth in the world heading into the tournament, but a tough draw put them in a group with two European powers. Germany, the two-time defending champion was ranked second in the world and France came in at No. 7.
Canada opened with a 2-1 loss to Germany, then fell 4-0 to France in a game Canada needed a result.
“We know as a team that we didn’t perform to our maximum potential,” Filigno told the website. “Every team has that one game where you’re completely off, and unfortunately for us it was our most important match. We feel like we let ourselves down. That game doesn’t define us and it’s definitely well short of what we’re capable of.”
Nigeria, the African champion ranked 27th in the world, has yet to score a goal at the tournament, suffering 1-0 defeats to Germany and France.
Canada and Nigeria played in the group stage at the 1995 Women’s World Cup, settling for a 3-3 tie. Both teams failed to make the knockout round that year as well.
With all but two of the 21 players on the World Cup roster under 30, many of the players on this year’s team will still be around in four years when Canada hosts the Women’s World Cup.
Filigno, 20, is among the young group of Canadians expected to star for the team on home soil.
“I still have so much to develop and to improve, and I think that it’s is going to be a great time for me to be in front of our home crowd,” she said. “We have a lot of people behind us. Even with this loss it’s astonishing to see how many supporters we still have. It definitely brings a smile to our faces.”
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