SPORTS

Herdman returns to his hometown of Newcastle for Canada's game against Sweden

07/30/2012 04:23 EDT | Updated 09/29/2012 05:12 EDT
John Herdman hopes some hometown support will help propel Canada's women's soccer team to a spot in the London Olympic quarter-finals.

The coach returns to his hometown of Newcastle on Tuesday, where the No. 7 Canadians battle fourth-ranked Sweden to wrap up the preliminary round.

A victory would ensure the Canadians — with a 2-1 loss to Japan and 3-0 victory over South Africa — a spot in the quarter-finals, but they could also move through on goal differential.

Pacing the sidelines of what's officially now called Sports Direct Arena — or better known as St. James' Park, home of Newcastle United — will be a special moment for Canada's 37-year-old coach.

"I stood on Gallowgate End (the stadium's southern stand) with my dad when I was five years old," Herdman said the day the draw was announced. "This is an amazing opportunity, a dream come true, local lad leads his team out at the ground he went to as a kid to watch his favourite team.

"I watched from the stand, always dreamed of leading a team out there one day ... Brilliant."

Herdman hoped Newcastle fans would embrace the Canadians, and make them the "darlings of the northeast."

The Canadians face a tough test against the Swedes, bronze medallists at last summer's World Cup and perennial top-four finishers in any major tournament.

"They know how to win football matches, they're very organized, disciplined," Herdman said. "Greatest strength is they're very disciplined and organized around what they do, that might also be their greatest weakness.

"But if you are loose with your possession, you're in big trouble."

Sweden beat South Africa 4-1 and played Japan to a 0-0 draw.

Canada will try to add another diving medal Wednesday when Roseline Filion and Meaghan Benfeito compete in women's 10-metre synchronized platform. The pair won silver at a World Cup event earlier this year.

It's another busy day for Canada at Wimbledon as Milos Raonic, Aleksandra Wozniak and the men's doubles team of Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil are in action.

They all have their work cut out for them. Raonic faces No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, Wozniak meets American star Venus Williams, and Nestor and Pospisil face the third-ranked Serbs.

Weightlifter Christine Girard will try to improve on her fourth-place finish at the 2008 Beijing Games in the women's 63-kilogram event. Girard won gold in the event at the 2011 Pan Am Games.

Brent Hayden will try to reverse Canada's fortunes in the pool when he competes in the men's 100-metre freestyle preliminaries.

Audrey Lacroix and Katerine Savard compete in the women's 200-metre butterfly and Scott Dickens races in the men's 200 breaststroke.

In rowing,Canada's lightweight women's double sculls try to advance to the final through the repechage.

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