(Reuters) – Canada coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller conceded his side were nervous in their women’s World Cup opener against Cameroon in Montpellier on Monday but said the 1-0 Group E victory will allow them to play more freely from now on.
Canada, fifth in the women’s rankings, were far from convincing in front of goal and Kadeisha Buchanan’s towering header on the stroke of halftime was one of 16 shots they had, of which only four were on target.
“You could sense some nervousness,” Heiner-Moller told reporters. “We knew … it would be difficult and crucial, and you’ve seen already in this tournament that not all the favorites come out of these matches with three points.
“When you’re controlling the ball and controlling the game, small mistakes creep in and Cameroon were always looking for those mistakes to counter-attack with the fast players they had up front.
“But I was pretty happy with the performance, there were some jitters but now they’re gone. (The goal) gave us some calmness at halftime because I felt they wanted too much too early.”
Cameroon had 35% possession and had only one shot on target in the match and coach Alain Djeumfa said he had set the team up to counter-attack against a superior side.
“We prepared our structure and formation, but Canada are fifth in the women’s ranking and we are 46th,” Djeumfa said. “So we had to be realistic and focus on defending and hitting on the counter-attack.
“From a tactical point of view, I think the way our formation worked was very good. We were just up against a good team and found ourselves in sticky situations. Canada are a more mature team and we saw that out there.”
Canada, who reached the quarter-finals in 2015, play New Zealand next while Cameroon play the Netherlands with both games taking place on Saturday.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)