Évelyne Viens and her teammates from the Canadian team will take to the stage at the World Cup on Thursday evening as Olympic champions. They will represent one of the favorite nations of the tournament played in Australia and New Zealand. And yet…
Although they have won the most prestigious international competition, with the exception of the World Cup, the Canadian women do not feel that they are held in as high regard as they deserve. Viens spoke about it to her teammates in Sweden, stressing how players wearing the maple leaf are “constantly underestimated”.
“Many people believe that our victory at the Olympics was luck. I also believe that the players, individually, we are not as respected as some players from other countries. We have so many players who are overflowing with talent and we hardly talk about them. Even Christina [Sinclair], the top international scorer, male and female alike, has only a fraction of the respect she should command. There is a lack of respect, ”drops the Quebec forward.
Elsewhere, Canada’s head coach, Bev Priestman, opted for a formation similar to that which triumphed in Tokyo. Naturally, the retirement of goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé, the injury of hard-hitting midfielder Janine Beckie and the non-selection of veteran Desiree Scott will change the dynamic of the group.
However, there is not only bad news in the Canadian camp, according to Viens.
The girls have matured a lot and we have new leaders. It is sure that with Sinc, Sophie Schmidt and Jessie [Fleming] – who has been there for years – we have a strong group. These are the same values as in the past, with many of the same players. The difference is not huge.
If it is a more experienced and more mature group that will storm Steve Irwin’s land, the observation is just as valid for the attacker from L’Ancienne-Lorette.
Don’t let the head entangle the feet
“Me, the less I overthink, the better I play”, explains the 26-year-old striker.
About what exactly? A little bit of everything. Viens says she’s definitely made progress in the past two years in terms of managing expectations, and that’s kind of what gets her back to the national team.
Just before the Olympics, Viens was in great shape with Paris FC, which earned him a call-up for the summer tournament. However, after the competition, she had difficulty establishing herself when she returned to Gotham of New Jersey/New York, her parent club in the NWSL.
Then calls to the national team became less frequent. Until she joined Kristianstads DFF, Sweden, and the valves opened again. In 43 games, over two seasons, she scored 33 goals and obtained 14 assists. An almost unsustainable pace.
The lesson is therefore very simple: “From the moment I start thinking that I have to perform in a club to go to the national team, it does not go well for me, she notes. But when I focus on my club, on how I can perform and score goals, it helps, it helped me get back into the team and really be in the majority of the camps. »
Viens also took advantage of this period of calm to perfect several aspects of her game. She points out that she is more “calm” and “dominant” in the penalty area and that this progression has allowed her to “perform” more with the Reds.
On the hunt for minutes
The Quebecer was certainly worthy of being called for the high mass of soccer. However, she is not the only one. The Maple Leaf will rely on eight forwards for the competition, while Priestman’s roster calls for three roles to be filled.
In the last few months, Viens has been used all over the place, as a starter or as a substitute. Its role for this World Cup is not cast in stone and even if the competition is fierce – and above all numerous – it should tread the field.
What’s more, she sees it as one of Canada’s strengths, and again, she doesn’t want to worry too much about imagining different scenarios.
“Forwarders, we all have such different profiles. We all bring strength, so [Bev Priestman] can use different players for different matches. It will also depend on the form of the players who manage to perform, ”she admits.
The Canadians will need goals to win. The strategy of Priestman’s troops will undeniably not be focused on the attack, the least brilliant aspect of the Canadian team, but all the same, Viens and his counterparts will have to make their share of efforts to give the defense a breather. Especially considering the number of players available.
“I’m not going to arrive with the pressure of having to score in every game, but I want to contribute offensively,” she concludes.
The next few weeks will tell if her feet, her goals and her victories will finally give her the respect she and her teammates deserve from everyone.
Nigeria v. Canada, this Thursday at 10:30 p.m. (Quebec time)