John Herdman plans strong finish for Canadian women at Brasilia tournament

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BRASILIA, Brazil - Every match Canada's national women's soccer team plays is a step toward the World Cup.

Head coach John Herdman is gearing his squad up for that marquee tournament with a series of exhibition games, including the third-place decider against Scotland on Sunday at the Torneio Internacional de Futebol Feminino.

"We use this tournament setting as a growth process and we look to build certain strategies in the mental space as well as in the physical space," said Herdman on Saturday. "For example, players are starting to get a fuller awareness of the physical impact of the tournament on them.

"By Game 4 they know pretty much how many metres they've run, what they've still got left in the tank, what we expect."

Adriana Leon and Christine Sinclair scored in Canada's 2-0 victory over Scotland in the tournament opener on Dec. 12. The Canadians then lost to Chile 1-0 on Dec. 15 and earned a 0-0 draw with host Brazil on Dec. 18.

That loss and draw sent Canada to a rematch with Scotland for third place on Sunday in Brasilia, Brazil. Chile and Brazil will play in the final later that day.

"We've worked with two styles of play since we've been here, two models we've worked on," said Herdman. "Going into this last game, without giving too much away, we'll be throwing out something a little bit different where we try and adopt some strategies from both and try to mix that up."

Herdman was reluctant to discuss what lineup he'd put out against Scotland, but said it would be a younger group taking the pitch for Canada.

"We're expecting opportunities for some players to accumulate caps and minutes for young players," said Herdman. "As well as to manage and balance that against absolutely getting a result."

The head coach feels the Scottish side will be well prepared for the Canadians, despite Canada's victory earlier in the tournament.

"It's going to be a tough game because Scotland will have learned from our first game. They'll be adapting to what we're going to bring," said Herdman. "So we've made some changes, we're testing a few little technical things that might be different and hopefully that brings the result."

Although it's been a frustrating year for the Canadians, Herdman is encouraged by how his team has responded to adversity in the leadup to the women's under-20 World Cup in 2014 and the women's World Cup in 2015. Both tournaments will be hosted by Canada.

"I think there have been a lot of positive things that have happened this year. I think the frustrating thing is that in 2013 the results haven't quite been where you want them to be, but we always said this year we'd take a couple of steps back to move forward to 2014, 2015," Herdman said.

"I think this tournament, the way the girls have played, has shown real progress."