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Canada vs Brazil. Photo courtesy of Canada Soccer.

Things get ‘Rio’ serious in Ottawa

By Josh Lemoine on June 6, 2016

Ahead of Tuesday’s ‘Road to Rio’ game at TD Place, Apt613 previews the game, and spoke with rising star fullback Kadeisha Buchanan.

This Tuesday, June 7th, Christine Sinclair and the Canadian National Women’s Team will face Brazil (ranked 8th in the world), in the second of two games against the Olympic host nation.

The two teams faced each other Saturday, June 4 in Toronto in front of more than 28,000 raucous fans.  While statistically Canada was the better team for the 90 minutes, Brazilian superstar Marta capitalized twice on defensive breakdowns in Canada’s end.  ‘The Reds’ were not able to respond, and fell 2-0.  Goalie Stephanie Labbé spoke after the game, and was asked if fans can expect a different outcome on Tuesday in Ottawa.

“Yeah for sure, I mean, I don’t think it’s going to be night-and-day different, it’s still the same team.  We’re going to come out, we’re going to have maybe a little less nerves in the beginning.  We’re going to come out confident and strong.”

Canada’s player of the game was Ashley Lawrence, who was playing fullback instead of her usual spot at midfield.  She said fans can expect a stronger performance from the team on Tuesday.

“Of course we’re not pleased with the result, but we’re going to take a lot of learning and progress toward the next game.”

The games provide a good test for Canada, ranked 10th in the world.  Head coach John Herdman is hoping that by playing these games, and one against France in July, it will help Canada round into top form before their first Olympic game (August 3rd against Australia).

Speaking with young star, and Young Player Award winner at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, Kadeisha Buchanan, the team is fully focused on the upcoming tournament.

“We’re definitely getting excited.  A lot of the players are really focusing on their craft right now, in their own leagues, NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League), before we bring it to Rio.  I think based on the momentum, these games are really key for us to get the win, and keep that momentum going forward.”

See Kadeisha “having a ball” around Ottawa!

Buchanan is certainly excited to head to Rio.  It will be her first taste of Olympic action, as she joined the team just after the team’s amazing run at the 2012 London Olympics.

“I’ve been training for this Olympics since the last Olympics, 2012, since I joined the team.  I joined right after that outstanding performance from the group of girls.  I’ve been training for four years, including the Women’s World Cup.  I took a semester off of school (she is currently studying criminology at the University of West Virginia) just to keep focused with the Olympics, and keep my game up.”

Buchanan has drawn some pretty high praise of late.  In addition to her Young Player Award, and Best Player award from the recent Algarve Cup (which Canada won by defeating Brazil 2-1 in the final), head coach John Herdman has called her the “Christine Sinclair of defence.”  She is pretty humble in her response to that.

“Yeah, when I first heard it, I was a bit confused what that really meant.  But I started to realize that how humble she is and how much of a silent leader she is on the field.  She leads by her example.  That’s what I took out of it.  She’s a great leader.  She performs 90 minutes, game in, game out.  She’s a very consistent player.  I just try to follow in her footsteps…  I want to excel how she excels.”

I asked Kadeisha what she says to young players at the game watching her, looking to one day reach the level she’s at.  It turns out she has a great message, as she learned the value of hard work and practise, which has since paid off.

“I was trying out for my U14 provincial team, and unfortunately I didn’t make it.  So what I tell kids is, keep working hard, keep training day in and day out, because I know I did, and that’s what got me to the U15 provincial team.  So even if you get cut, or if you don’t make the team, still keep trying.  If you want to try out for the national team one day, keep pushing.  I think it’s the work that goes unnoticed, the work you do by yourself, when no one’s watching, I think that’s the work that counts, that’s the work that’s going to put you to the next level.”

There are a limited number of tickets left to watch the game live. For complete match and ticket information, visit Canada Soccer.