Fast on the heels of regional powers the United States, the Canadians are a rising force in North, Central America and the Caribbean and are every inch the 'second team in the confederation. With an approach based on physical strength and quick-fire attacking, the no-nonsense Canucks will be a side to watch once hostilities commence in China.
Despite finishing second in the 2006 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup, the Canadians pushed the USA all the way with a couple of sturdy - if not dazzling - performances. Without star team members Charmaine Hooper, Sharolta Nonen and Christine Latham, the girls from the Great White North hammered Jamaica in their first match at the semi-final stage by a score of 4-0. Ace striker Christine Sinclair grabbed a brace to keep up her reputation as one of the best goal getters in North America, while Rhian Wilkinson and Melanie Booth rounded out the scoring.
The final match against the USA proved a bruising affair in which the Canadians were determined to show their uncompromising mettle. After going down early, they stormed back and defender Randee Hermus drew level on the stroke of halftime. With no more goals in the second 45 minutes, the match went to extra time. Unfortunately for Canada, the referee awarded a penalty for the Americans in, literally, the final seconds of the second period of extra time. Up stepped old reliable Kristine Lilly who put the Americans through as the top team from CONCACAF. But one thing is certain - the USA knew they had a game on that night.
Even Pellerud earned fame is his native Norway for making a force of the Scandinavian side. With a devotion to physical fitness and raw power, the advocate of direct football was a perfect fit for the Canadians when he took over the post in 1999. A former player in Norway, Pellerud even earned one cap for his country. He became Norway's Women's coach in 1991, leading them that year to the silver medal at both the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship. He followed that up by winning the UEFA European Championship in 1993, the FIFA Women's World Cup in 1995, and an Olympic bronze at Atlanta 1996. His passion was evident in the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup final against the United States when he was sent to the stands by the referee for heatedly arguing a call.