Girls Elite grad Emma Fletcher set to take on the world at the 2014 FIFA Women's World Cup

Canada opens vs. Ghana in Toronto. 5 p.m. PT, live on CBC

The countdown is finally over, the stadia are all set, and the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014 is ready to begin.
 
After months of camps and friendlies against top teams, Canada’s women’s U-20 national team will line up at the National Soccer Stadium against Ghana. The two countries will play in the second game of the day in Toronto after Finland and Korea DPR get things started and it’s the second consecutive time Canada will meet Ghana in a female youth World Cup.
 
In March, Canada came away as 2-1 winners over Ghana at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica 2014 in the group stage. But while the opponent may be familiar, the Canadians are not expecting a carbon copy style from this Ghanaian team.
 
“Their habits and their tendencies and some of their features are similar,” said Canadian Head Coach Andrew Olivieri. “They’re athletic, they’re technical but we’ve had a couple of occasions to see them in the past few weeks. The U-17s to the U-20s don’t look that similar at all, in many cases.”
 
As hosts, Canada never had to go through a qualifying process so while other countries got in meaningful competition in qualifying matches, Canada had to make do with residency camps and getting in international games whenever possible.
 
The lack of competitive action only ratcheted up the excitement levels even further and now is finally the time for all that preparation and work on the process of winning will come together when it matters in hopefully a positive Canadian result.
 
“We’ve been building to this for quite some time now and we know this is part of the process of the players,” said Olivieri. “This will be the first of many games and hopefully the first of many tournament for all of them but finally being able to do it on the world stage is really enjoyable.”
 
Of course, this tournament isn’t the be-all, end-all for these players. The objective is to produce players that can excel at the senior level but a home World Cup at any age group is something to savour.