It's said that managers live or die by their decisions and, though Ian Bridge made just a single change to the teams that started Canada's first and second matches at Russia 2006, it was one that succeeded in keeping alive his side's hopes of progressing.

For the Canucks - down and on the brink of going out after being  edged out in injury time by Nigeria  - the introduction of Jodi-Ann Robinson transpired to be not so much as a selection change as an injection of fresh life into a team which, while unfortunate to lose in their group opener, had looked a touch toothless in the attacking third.

From an early stage of the subsequent win-or-bust clash with Finland, it was evident that Robinson brought a different, quicker and more unpredictable dimension to Canada's attacking play, and over the course of the match she also proved capable of providing football's most sought-after ingredient: goals.
"The reason I started with Jodi-Ann against Finland is that she's absolutely terrific in one-v-one situations," her coach said after watching the 17-year-old  score both Canadian goals in a 2-0 win . "Our attack is more exciting and dynamic with her in it, that's for sure.

"Lisa (Collison), who I went with for our first game, brings other qualities to the team, but there's no doubt that our front three against Finland - Jodi-Ann, Aysha (Jamani) and Loredana (Riverso) - is definitely our most dangerous and exciting in terms of running at defenders and causing problems on the ground." 

'Of course we can win it'
It was fitting and proper that Bridge should stress that the stretching and tormenting of the Finnish defence had been no one-woman show, with Robinson's direct leading of the line having been complemented perfectly by the skill and trickery of Jamani on the left and Riverso's ability to deliver crosses of consistently high quality from the right.

Add to that the energy of Amanda Cicchini and the aerial ability of Kaylyn Kyle and, according to Robinson, you have a potent and potentially tournament-winning blend. 

"There are so many players in our team, like Aysha, Amanda or Loredana, who can cause the opposition problems in lots of different ways," the striker told "The options we have going forward definitely has to stand as a big thing we have in our favour at this tournament.

"Can we win it? Of course we can. We definitely have the team to go all the way. There's a great strength in this group and, if we get the result we need against  China , no-one will find it easy against us in the knockout stage."

"I'd definitely say we can go all the way to the final," agreed Riverso. "That's what we came here to do and if we play to our best, we're well capable of achieving that.

"But it's important to build up a bit of momentum, and the main thing from the Finland game was that we all started really enjoying our football again. Looking back, if I'm being honest, I'd say we probably underestimated Nigeria, but that's behind us now and any nerves we had have gone completely." 

Injury fears allayed
Canada can certainly ill afford to be carrying any mental baggage as they prepare for another must-win match against a Chinese side who not only top the group by three clear points, but who also  inflicted two recent friendly defeats on Bridge's side in their own backyard.

"Things haven't gone the way we wanted against China when we've played them recently," Robinson admitted, "but this is the perfect time for us to set that right and get a result."

If Canada are to upset the imposing Asian champions and survive in a  three-way qualification scrap  that also involves Nigeria, what's sure is that they will need Robinson fit and firing on all cylinders, and as such, will have been concerned to see an icepack strapped firmly to the 17-year-old's right knee in the aftermath of her goalscoring heroics.

The player herself, however, is quick to dismiss any doubts over her participation - "just an old injury, I'll be fine," she promises - and, perhaps ominously for the Chinese, the Vancouver Whitecaps striker is keen to stress that, "there's definitely a bit extra still to come from me in terms of what I can bring to the team at this tournament".

Not that her team-mates are looking for more. Evidently, they love Robinson just the way she is.

"It's fantastic playing with Jodi-Ann, I love it," Riverso enthuses. "She's a really great player with such a wide range of talents that you can give her any kind of pass and she'll be able to do something with it. All the girls know exactly what she brings to this team."

More importantly, so does her manager.