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Canadian women play 13th-ranked Norway in first full international of 2019

Canadian women play 13th-ranked Norway in first full international of 2019
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After playing Switzerland to a scoreless draw in a closed-door training match last week, fifth-ranked Canada turns it up a notch Tuesday when it takes on Norway in a women’s soccer friendly in Murcia, Spain.

The Norwegians, currently ranked 13th, are coming off an impressive 3-1 win over No. 20 Scotland last Thursday.

Megan Rapinoe #15 of the United States battles with Ashley Lawrence #10 of Canada for the ball. Fifth-ranked Canada takes on Norway in a women’s soccer friendly in Murcia, Spain on Tuesday.  (Icon Sportswire / GETTY IMAGES)

“I expect a real full international ... You can win 3-1 and be very lucky and you can win 3-1 and be very convincing. They did the latter,” said Canada coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller.

“It’s a mature team. They’ve got very skilful players ... But if you look at us, so do we.”

He points to the likes of Norway’s Caroline Graham Hansen and a young up-and-comer 24-year-old midfielder Guro Reiten.

Norwegian star striker Ada Hegerberg, the first-ever winner of the women’s Ballon d’Or, is currently on a break from international soccer. Hegerberg and Canadian defender Kadeisha Buchanan are teammates at French powerhouse Lyon.

Christine Sinclair named Canadian women’s player of the year for the 14th time

Unlike some other European women’s leagues, the Norwegian league has yet to start its season.

Heiner-Moller will be without 17-year-old fullback Jayde Riviere, who was sent home after suffering a concussion at the team’s training camp in Spain. But he got to see most of his roster in the training match against the 18th-ranked Swiss, using 21 of his players.

Canada is gearing up for this summer’s World Cup in France, where it has been drawn in a group with the seventh-ranked Netherlands, No. 19 New Zealand and No. 46 Cameroon. Norway is in a pool with No. 3 France, No. 14 South Korea and No. 39 Nigeria.

Canada’s career record against Norway is 1-8-3 but has had the upper hand in recent matches. The Canadians won 3-2 when they last met in November 2017 in a friendly in Spain. The two previous meetings — in 2013 and 2010 — finished 0-0 and 1-1, respectively.

The 3-2 victory over Norway marked John Herdman’s last match at the women’s helm. He moved over to the Canadian men’s team in January 2018.

The Canadian women are 8-4-0 under Heiner-Moller, a Dane who had served as Herdman’s assistant. Three of those losses came to the top three teams in the world: the top-ranked U.S., No. 2 Germany and No. 3 France.

The other defeat was at the hands of No. 9 Sweden in Heiner-Moller’s first game in charge, last February at the Algarve Cup.

The Canadian women’s next action will be at the 2019 edition of the Portuguese tournament, with games against No. 22 Iceland on Feb. 27 and No. 20 Scotland on March 1 before a final ranking match March 6.
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