VANCOUVER - John Herdman says his team has made Canada proud at the Women's World Cup. Now it's time to make history.
"Two games away from the final. A couple of opponents in our way. Let's do it," the Canadian coach told his pre-match news conference Friday.
Standing in eighth-ranked Canada's way Saturday is No. 6 England in a quarter-final showdown before an expected crowd of 50,000-plus at B.C. Place Stadium. The winner will face either No. 4 Japan or No. 10 Australia in Wednesday's semifinal in Edmonton.
This is uncharted territory for England, whose round-of-16 win over Norway was its first ever in the World Cup knockout rounds. The Canadian women have got this far just once before — in 2003 when they finished fourth after losing to Sweden in the semifinals and the U.S. in the third-place match.
Herdman, an English native, said Canadians have taken his team into their heart.
"We've made our country proud," said Herdman. "And you hear that from the people in the street. Everyone that stops us tells us that ... And that was a big part of what we said we were going to do here.
"It's now (time) to really push the envelope and take this team somewhere it's never been before at a World Cup."
England coach Mark Sampson acknowledged his team is in hostile territory.
"It's not just 55,000 people (in the stadium), we found that out in the last couple of days. I think it's a whole nation who are hoping for one result." he said. "But let's not forget there's a lot of people back in England as well who really want this team to do well and be successful.
"We've already inspired a nation in terms of our performance at this tournament and our results and we're hoping we can keep that journey going with a big performance (Saturday)."
While Herdman and his management team are renowned for their comprehensive contingency plans, English players say Canada won't know what to prepare for Saturday.
That despite the fact the two teams know each other inside out, according to English midfielder Jill Scott.
"But, at the same time, I think we have proved in this tournament that we can play in a number of different ways and a number of different formations, and that's quite pleasing," she is quoted in an article on England's Football Association website. "Canada won't know what England team is going to show up on Saturday."
Striker Ellen White agrees.
"I think over the last kind of 18 months, two years, we've really been working on our different systems and how we can use them in different games against different oppositions and how we can adapt ourselves during games as well," she told The Canadian Press.
"And I think we have used that throughout this tournament. So yeah, I think Canada are not going to know what England team's going to be turning up or during the game what we're going to be switching to. So I think that's really exciting — and really exciting for us that we've got different plans that we can draw upon and use against the opposition.
"So I think that's a real good weapon for us to have in our locker."
Not surprisingly, Herdman disagrees.
"There is consistency in how they're playing although the lineups have been different and some of the tactical nuances have changed," he said.
Canada's all-time record against England is 5-6-0, with the Canadians also holding a win over Great Britain from the 2012 Olympics.
The Canadians won a 1-0 pre-tournament warmup against England in Hamilton, a result Sampson suggested carried little weight given his roster selection and his team's travel schedule.
England had won the four previous meetings between the two. Canada failed to score in all four of those games, three of which were decided by 1-0 scores.
Goals have also been hard to come by at this tournament. Canada (2-0-2) has just three in four matches.
"They have been struggling to score goals in this tournament so we can try and take advantage of that," English midfielder Katie Chapman was quoted on the FA website.
Sampson also made a reference to scoring in talking up his team Friday.
"We've seen over the course of this tournament (this) England team show various different sides to their performance — very resolute, very resilient, very strong, very competitive," he said. "And we can score goals.
"So we're in a good place going into the game. We'll be ready for whatever type of challenge we're going to face."
England (3-1-0) has six goals in the tournament, including a rocket of a strike by Lucy Bronze that proved to be the winner in its 2-1 comeback victory over Norway.
England, beaten by France in its opener, is riding a three-game win streak at the tournament. Canada, unbeaten in its last three outings, is looking to post back-to-back victories at the World Cup for the first time since 2003 when it won three straight.
The interest in the Lionesses has prompted the game to be moved onto BBC 1 back home. Kickoff, which is 4:30 p.m. local time, is 12:30 a.m. Sunday in Britain.
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