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Groups C, D teams eye next round, Ecuador aims to bounce back

Gowon CanadaThe second round of matches in Groups C and D could enable two of the main contenders for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 to take a giant step towards the Round of 16.

That is, of course, assuming that they – Japan and United States – win their respective encounters, which is in no way a certainty, given the manner in which their opponents, Cameroun and Sweden, are currently playing.

Elsewhere, Switzerland and Ecuador will attempt to recover from opening-day defeats to secure a result that keeps them alive in the tournament, as will Australia, who will have to be at their best to see off a dangerous Nigerian side.

Taking into account the experience and level of quality exhibited by the four teams that make up Group D, it could be argued that each match in the section takes on added importance, and the clash between Sweden and USA, traditional powerhouses of the women’s game, is no different.

The Stars and Stripes, who have their eyes on a third world crown, kicked off their campaign with a 3-1 success over Australia, while the Swedes twice let a solid lead slip against Nigeria.

Versus the USA’s experienced stars, such as Abby Wambach, Megan Rapinoe, Hope Solo and Christie Rampone, the Scandinavians will need to seriously up their game if they are to take something from the fixture. Sweden coach Pia Sundhage will know this better than anyone, having been in charge of the US national team between 2008 and 2012.

World champions, Japan, take on debutants Cameroun in Vancouver in what promises to be a fascinating duel. Surprisingly, the Africans go into the match as leaders of Group C, courtesy of their resounding 6-0 victory over Ecuador, while the Nadeshiko needed a first-half penalty to get the better of newcomers, Switzerland.

The Japanese will rely on their experience and collective style of play, but will need to take care not to offer up any opportunities to Les Lionnes’ attacking triumvirate of Madeleine Ngono Mani, Gabrielle Onguene and Gaelle Enganamouit, who put on a striking masterclass against Ecuador.

In the wake of that heavy loss, Ecuador coach Vanessa Arauz will attempt to field a more solid defence in their pivotal match with Switzerland, a task that is complicated by the fact that captain Ligia Moreira is suspended. The Swiss, meanwhile, will be keen to improve on their finishing after wasting numerous chances against Japan.

In the remaining Group D game, Australia will look to reproduce their impressive first-half display from their opening encounter when they lock horns with Nigeria in Winnipeg. The Africans showed great resilience to come back from 2-0 down to snatch a 3-3 draw with Sweden, and are likely to cause the Matildas’ rearguard some concerning moments during the 90 minutes.

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