• Tuesday Jan 24, 2012

    Herdman's plan has Canada ready

    By Vijay Setlur


    VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Roster depth and player management was always a key consideration in John Herdman's plan to get Canada to the Olympic Games.

    Now he has the Canadians one win from the goal.

    Herdman has used each of his 20 players as Canada has won all three group matches in five days at CONCACAF Olympic women's qualifying. It has given him the luxury of putting Canada's first-choice 11 on a minimum of three days rest to play in Friday's one-game, do-or-die semifinal for a trip to London.

    "It's a major advantage," Herdman said. "In 96 hours, the glycogen stores are in full repletion so the players will be in tip-top shape."

    Canada has won its matches against Haiti, Cuba and Costa Rica by a combined 13-1, earning it a berth against the runner-up from Group B, and likely avoiding the United States. With its 5-1 win over Costa Rica on Monday, it also will have an extra day's advantage against whichever team it faces in Friday's semifinals.

    "It's fantastic, so any player that has played 90 minutes (Monday) plus all the managed minutes over that time they're back to full fitness," Herdman said. "I think it's a massive advantage."

    Herdman replaced Carolina Morace after Canada lost all three games and finished last at the Women's World Cup in July. The former New Zealand women's national team coach has made quick converts of his new charges.

    "When John came in it was a super easy adjustment and I'll be completely honest I was shocked," said midfielder Kaylyn Kyle. "The people that he has brought in around him are just so intelligent and so smart. and for our game plan they rip apart the other teams and we really don't have to think when we're playing.

    "It's just we go out and play soccer. He has our game plan set out for us."

    Only six players have appeared in all three games, and only forward Christine Sinclair and defender Shannon Woeller have started all three.

    Woeller has played every minute, while Sinclair has played two full matches, plus half of the 2-0 win over Cuba.
    With Sinclair leading all scorers with seven goals, neither she nor Herdman seemed concerned about her fitness for Friday.

    "Of course she is," Herdman said, when asked whether Sinclair would be ready. "Ninety-six hours recovery, the sports science will tell you and our recovery strategies. Christine will be ready and as I say she's such an important player to the team.

    "The team enjoys it when she's on the pitch. She loves being on the pitch and like I say you try getting Christine off she's the type of player that will play through broken noses you know, she'll run through brick walls for these girls. There's no problem with Sincy."

    With three days to get ready, Sinclair was looking forward to enjoying a little of the tournament in her hometown.

    "I'm sure we'll have some kind of recovery session, just sort of flush some things from (Monday's) game," said Sinclair, who is from the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby. "But John likes us to sort of get away from soccer for a while so I'm sure I'm going to visit some family."

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