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Today's Game

October 05, 2003|Grahame L. Jones

CANADA vs SWEDEN 7:30 p.m. at PGE Park, Portland, Ore., ESPN2, 46 (KFTR)

How they got here: Canada bounced back from a 4-1 loss to Germany in its opening game to beat Argentina and Japan and finish second in Group C with a 2-1-0 record. It then upset China, 1-0, in the quarterfinals. Sweden also lost its opener, 3-1, to the U.S. but then defeated North Korea and Nigeria to finish second in Group A with a 2-1-0 record. It then beat Brazil, 2-1, in the quarterfinals.

Players to watch: The Swedish trio of Malin Mostroem, Hanna Ljungberg and Victoria Svensson could prove a handful for the Canadian defenders, while Swedish defender Jane Toernqvist is one of the world's best. Canada boasts a world-class player in Charmaine Hooper and an international star in the making in Christine Sinclair.

Previous appearances: Canada was ousted in the first round in 1995 and 1999, its only two World Cup appearances. Its overall record is 3-5-2. Former European champion Sweden finished third at the 1991 world championship in China. It lost in the quarterfinals as host in 1995 and fell at the same hurdle in 1999. Its overall record in the World Cup is 11-7-0.

Quick look: Coach Marika Domanski Lyfors' Swedes, on paper, would appear to be the favorites today. They have the strength and experience to handle the Canadians, who have advanced further than ever before under Coach Even Pellerud, who led Norway to the 1995 world title. Canada was the last team to beat the U.S. on American soil, and U.S. Coach April Heinrichs does not discount its chances. "Canada is an extremely difficult team to play against," she said. "They're strong defensively, they're strong physically, they're strong psychologically. They believe in themselves now in a way that they never have."

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