Welcome to Partially Obstructed View. We are each restrained by the limits of our own perspective, but when we meet to share information a clearer picture of the truth can be revealed. Comments & criticisms are welcome.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Thoughts? - On the Women’s World Cup & Canada’s Performance

     It has been refreshing to watch some football with a lack of cynical fouls, diving, and poor sportsmanship. It has also been good to watch some athletes perform not for sponsorship contracts or higher wages (not that that is not a motivational factor) but for their love of the game and the pride of their nations.

     The disappointing performance by Canada against France was the first of a series of outliers for a disparity of fouls committed. France out-fouled Canada 16 to 4. While the number of fouls called is not a perfect measurement as there are too many variables, it is interesting to note that in several matches with unexpected results – be that more lop-sided or closer than expected - there was a consistency in over-fouling. For example, when Australia beat Equatorial Guinea (6:18) and in Japan’s victory over New Zealand (5:15).

     Considering how low the foul count tends to be in the Women’s game perhaps was that part of the strategy. Was Canada unprepared for such a game plan that destroyed their flow?

     It was interesting to note that Sweden – a historically strong team – in the 1-0 victory out-fouled Columbia 17-4. Has Canada’s insistence on leaving behind the old school kick-&-rush for the more fluid game lost that physical edge that is at times a necessary plan B?

     Why was McLeod so aggressive in coming off of her line? I know she’s small but not getting there allowed for easy goals that may have been saved by staying put. Was that the instruction she was given or her playing style? Either way it was a mistake. A keeper who dominates their box is an asset, but not getting there is worse than not coming.

     Was being sequestered away from Canada for so long the right way to prepare for the tournament? Did they lose focus from not being in the spotlight of the Canadian Media attention? Would they have been better served to be doing media and social functions at home, having to look into the eyes of their supporters? Did the Morace-contract and financial disputes distract focus away from the bare campaign?

     The argument of a flawed development structure is being discussed again. But along with development, as important, is inspiration. Are perspective players watching enough soccer, either live or on TV? Several profiles asking the national team members who their favourite player was saw defenders claiming Pele and Michael Owen as their favourites, while a midfielder preferred Messi and a striker Paolo Maldini. Worthy choices but not appropriate for the role and style of play each player should be aspiring to.

     In the book “Soccernomics” Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski discussed the concept of European football expertise and how its flow around the world was responsible for improving standards of play. With so much knowledge contained within countries such as France, England, and Germany – as well as transported and accumulated knowledge in South America - it is no surprise that once their attention turned to the women’s game they have been able to surpass countries such as Canada, the US, as well as the Nordic and Asian countries that originally dominated the field in its infancy. Athleticism is being replaced with skill; is Canada’s failure a sign of falling behind the shift or just a bad performance?

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