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Wileman: A look back at Canada's women's team in 2012

Luke Wileman
8/9/2013 1:40:01 PM
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It seems like only yesterday, but it was on this day a year ago that Canada's Women's Soccer Team created history, beating France to win a bronze medal at the London Olympics. Diana Matheson's late winner was a moment never to be forgotten, and the performance of the team throughout the Olympics lifted the players to a whole new level of recognition across the country.

It was fantastic to see how our Women's soccer team was able to bring the nation together and having the honour of calling that moment in Canadian soccer history was such a privilege and one of the most special moments in my broadcasting career.

The country got swept up in soccer fever because of the spirited way in which those players represented our nation and there was a great sense of pride in what they managed to achieve. It was an amazing story after the controversial, heartbreaking way they lost to the United States a few days earlier and the players deserved immense credit for the way they responded.

Of course, the match that still sticks out above all others was the heartbreaking semifinal defeat to the United States. It was a match for the ages. A brave, spirited performance from underdogs, denied a famous win in controversial circumstances at one of world soccer's most iconic venues. It was one of the most enthralling games you are ever likely to see.

A 4-3 defeat to the No. 1 ranked team in the world is certainly no disgrace, but the manner in which the game was lost left the Canadians feeling cheated.

Unfortunately, at the time, all the talk about the referee's decisions overshadowed an incredible individual display from Christine Sinclair. We shouldn't have been surprised. Sinclair is world class and proved it once again last summer. She is one of the greatest soccer players the women's game has ever seen. She is the ultimate professional and a total team player. It was great to see her receive so many accolades and awards following her performances at the Olympics.

A bronze medal was a big success for this team, but now full focus is being placed on building towards Women's World Cup in 2015 to ensure that Canada is able to perform well on home soil.

Canada coach John Herdman transformed the team in the space of a year but now has another massive job ahead.

After finishing the Women's World Cup in 2011 in last place and without a win, Herdman inherited a despondent bunch of players. In a 12 month period he worked just as much on improving the mental aptitude of his squad as any other aspect of their game. Now he has to deal with expectations created by the Olympics success while reinventing a squad that has lost, and will continue to lose, some key veteran players.

Herdman was a guest analyst with us in studio for TSN's recent coverage of the UEFA Women's EUROs in Sweden. He's engaging, intelligent and without a doubt the right person to be leading this team to the World Cup. Canada is lucky to have him - but he's under no illusion as to the task that is facing him and his squad of players. Replicating the success of the London Olympics will arguably be a harder task than winning bronze in the first place.

The next step in Canada's preparation for 2015 comes in October when the squad gets back together for a friendly against South Korea in Edmonton, but there isn't a moment that goes by when Herdman isn't plotting a way forward, as he aims to once again captivate the country with his team's performances in two years' time.

As Herdman told me recently, Canada will not enter 2015 as the highest quality squad in the World Cup, but he will make sure they are the best prepared.

Luke Wileman

Luke Wileman


Luke Wileman is an analyst for TSN's soccer coverage and his blog can be read on TSN.ca.

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