Canucks eyeing an upset
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It's not often that a match ends with both teams celebrating as ecstatically as Canada and Denmark after last night's 0-0 draw in Hamilton.

Though no-one could question the two teams' commitment to chasing victory, this was one of those rare occasions when the outcome - both in the Waikato Stadium and further south in Wellington - suited everyone involved. Both, after all, had sealed their places in the last eight, and while failing secure all three points had left the Canucks to face European champions Germany, it was their post-match revelry that was least restrained.

Coach Bryan Rosenfeld told why. "We'd actually told the girls that they had to win to go through," he explained, "so they were absolutely blown away when we broke the news. But the thing was, we didn't actually know ourselves! The score from Wellington didn't get through to us on the bench until very late, so we stuck with the gameplan that we had to win in the assumption that Colombia would get a result."

I feel sorry for them actually because, overall, they probably deserved a little better.
Bryan Rosenfeld on New Zealand.

As it was, of course, the tournament hosts were busy putting paid to the South Americans' lingering hopes with a victory that, in Rosenfeld's opinion, was the very least they deserved. "I wasn't surprised," he said. "With a little more luck, New Zealand would have beaten us, and they had the chances to beat Denmark too. "

The same, according to Shelina Zadorksy, could have been said for Canada last night, with the impressive midfielder of the opinion that her team had done just about enough to shade this tightest of encounters. "Our main objective was to get through but we didn't want to rely on Colombia losing," said the Ontario-born 16-year-old. "We wanted to come out with a win and I think we were unfortunate not to get one because we created a lot of goalscoring opportunities. But we're through and that's what counts. Now we just need to focus on our next challenge."

That challenge is, of course, an especially imposing one, with Germany still widely considered to be the tournament's most likely champions. However, Nkem Ezurike, whose contribution in New Zealand Rosenfeld lauded as "fantastic", is hopeful of causing an upset.

"It's going to be a huge challenge but I think we can match them," she said. "I think we have a strong enough group, not only in the starting 11, but in the players who can come off the bench to make an impact."

The girls will have to be at their best to go through but anything can happen on any given day, and we're capable of doing something.
Rosenfeld on facing Germany.

Ezurike's confidence will doubtless please her coach, who was insistent that Canada should not be fearful of the challenge posed by the highly-rated European champions. Rosenfeld said: "Whether we finished first or second, we were always going to play a tough team because Germany and North Korea are both first-rate. "

The Canada coach, who revealed that the head injury sustained by star striker Tiffany Cameron is not as serious as first feared, is also encouraged by the knowledge that his team can still improve, particularly in the final third. "I think we should be able to penetrate more and create better opportunities by getting better supply to our forwards," he said. "If we can do that, I think we can cause anyone problems."

There is a certainly a feeling within the Canuck camp that the best has yet to come from their athletic and attack-minded team, with Zadorsky expressing the universally-held hope that they can finally start hitting the high notes against the Germans. "Hopefully we can peak at the right time, and that means doing it against Germany," she said. "I think we've done quite well so far but there's definitely room for improvement."