The French defeated defending champion Canada 2-0 in the final of the Cyprus Cup on Tuesday, but Canadian coach John Herdman said the team has made up considerable ground since the French knocked Canada out of the World Cup last summer.
"It was one of those games, the French were better on the day, but I think a lot of positives to come, the girls finished strong and certainly were in the game," Herdman said. "France just came through with that little bit more quality.
"The gap is not insurmountable, and I think in three months we'll be ready."
France dominated the Canadian women in a 4-0 win at the World Cup in Germany last July, eliminating Canada's hopes of advancing out of the preliminary round.
This time goals by Marie-Laure Delie and Louisa Necib — the second via penalty — were enough to sink Canada at the G.S.Z. Stadium.
Delie intercepted a pass as Canada was trying to work the ball up from the backline in the first half. She scored from 16 yards out in the 31st minute.
Necib's penalty came in the 62nd minute after a foul called on Rhian Wilkinson.
"I think if I'm being biased, according to Rhian Wilkinson, she didn't touch the player," Herdman said. "But that happens in football and we probably should have had a penalty at the other end which was really disappointing, we had just as good a shout for one."
The French are ranked sixth in the world, one spot above Canada.
The two teams came into the final each with 3-0-0 records after winning their respective pools. The French had outscored their opponents 8-1 while Canada had an 8-2 edge.
Herdman called the tournament final a solid performance by his team.
"They finished really strong, they finished stronger than the French, which I think bodes well moving into the Olympics," Herdman said. "This is a team that still isn't at full strength, and not at its peak fitness.
"It's exciting times, I think the gap is there, there's no doubt there’s a gap technically and we certainly struggled to break the French down in deep areas. But in terms of possession stats, we had more of the ball than the French."
Herdman noted that the team is without forward Jonelle Filigno and midfielder Diane Matheson, who are injured.
Melissa Tancredi did play, becoming the 16th player to make her 75th appearance for Canada.
Canada arrived in Cyprus as the tournament defending champion and has made the final every year, winning it in 2008, 2010 and last year.
Canada and France have met eight times. Each team is 3-3-2.Suggest a correction