Unlikely Canuck bags big first
© FIFA.com

Canada defender Candace Chapman rarely scores, but when she does she likes to do it in China. At last year's FIFA Women's World Cup she struck in a quarter-final loss to Norway in Hangzhou, and on Wednesday night she came good again, chipping in with the all-important first goal in a 2-1 opening-day win over Argentina in steamy Tianjin.

"I never thought in a million years that I would score here in the tournament," Chapman, who has six goals for Canada, told FIFA.com the day after the victory. "The ball was pinging around after that corner kick, and I just hit it low and hard I was lucky that it zipped in. I'm usually never even that close to the goal!"

"It must be something in the air here in China," the Trinidad and Tobago-born Vancouver Whitecaps player added with a disarming smile.

Historic strike
The unlikely goal came in the 27th minute, and was Canada's first in Olympic Women's Football history. It was also the first goal scored in the Beijing 2008 women's finals. "It's a pretty awesome feeling and I was pretty surprised by it," she added. Kara Lang sealed the game with a fine header in the second half before the Argentines pulled back a consolation goal.

Chapman's strike also went a long way to settling down a Canadian team that looked to be caught off guard by the Argentines, who are much-improved since losing 11-0 to Germany in their FIFA Women's World Cup opener last year.

"We were having a hard time getting ourselves into the game and asserting ourselves," Chapman, 25, added. "But after that goal we were able to get ourselves into it a little more and control things."

The defender, who played for Notre Dame University in the USA, knows the Canadians can play much better than they did on that steamy Wednesday night in Eastern China. "We know we need to play better, and we know that we are good enough to play much, much better than we did," she added. "They (Argentina) slowed us down a bit and we need to work really hard to get into the game and get into our more aggressive and pro-active style."

Raw power
According to Chapman - and the vast majority of her teammates - the key to Canadian success at these, or any other finals, is there trademark quality: aggression. Norwegian coach Even Pellerud has built a team of bruisers and game competitors.

"This is one of the things that we really have fostered through the years, and used it to build up our program," she said. "We like to be direct, to get into tackles and go right at our opponents with an aggressive approach."

Up next for the foraging Canucks is a date with the considerably less direct, but prodigiously talented, hosts China, who thrilled 38,000 home fans in their first game on Wednesday with a win against Sweden.

"It's going to be a great atmosphere at the stadium with a lot of fans there," Chapman added, admitting the Canadian team is not accustomed to playing in front of huge crowds. "But now with one game under our belts, I think we are going to begin to improve and start playing the kind of soccer we know we can here in China."