The England Women's team will play Canada in two friendly internationals in May
The England Women's team will play Canada in two friendly internationals in May just days after taking on world champions USA, The Football Association can reveal. Canada, who have qualified for this year's World Cup Finals, will provide more tough opposition for England in their preparations for hosting the 2005 UEFA European Championship.
England will play Canada in a double series on May 19th and 22nd. The first match will be staged on Canada's national day of celebration in aid of Queen Victoria at a venue to be announced. The second game will be played at the 30,000-capacity Frank Clair Stadium in Ottawa at 7.00pm local time.
Previous to that England will play Mia Hamm's USA team on Saturday May 17th at Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama, live on ESPN at 12.00 noon local time.
National Coach Hope Powell OBE: "Canada have played in the last two World Cups and have qualified for this year's Finals as well. I remember playing against them at the 1995 World Cup and, although we beat them, you could see they were making massive strides forward. That was reflected in their Under-19 squad who beat our side last summer. Canada will be a hard test and that's exactly what I want for our players.
"I was keen that if we were going all the way to the USA to play quality opposition that we would play as many games as possible, so it's pleasing to be playing Canada twice. Playing three games gives us the chance to use every player to get experience, rather than using them for 45 minutes. It is likely that every player selected in the squad will play 90 minutes of high standard international football."
England have only played Canada once at senior level, winning 3-2 at the 1995 World Cup, when Hope Powell played. That game was played in Helsingborg, Sweden, so this will be the first time that the sides have met on Canadian soil.
The England U19 side played their Canadian counterparts in the inaugural FIFA Under-19 World Championship in August 2002. In front of 24,000 fans at the Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, England went down 2-6 in the quarter-finals; Canada went on to lose the Final to the USA by a golden goal.
England have played just one international so far this year, a 0-1 defeat in Italy, after losing out to France in their UEFA play-offs for the 2003 World Cup Finals. Canada qualified for the Finals alongside USA by way of a tournament in September 2002.
Ray Kiddell, Chairman of The FA Women's Football Committee, added: "I think this is a big opportunity to test our team against such quality opposition being mindful of the fact that we do not have any competitive fixtures for the next two years until Euro 2005. We have special ties with Canada and we look forward to building on the relationship between our associations at these matches."