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Australia, Canada look beyond next match

14 September 2007 07:20

HANGZHOU, China (AFP) - Australia and Canada are looking beyond their next World Cup games on Saturday towards a looming showdown for second place in Group C.

Norway already confirmed their claim to top spot by beating Canada 2-1 in their opening match on Wednesday. Australia beat Ghana 4-1 on the same night.

A double header here on Saturday pits Norway against Australia and Canada against Ghana.

Norway have never lost in three previous games against Australia and are favourites against the resurgent Matildas.

After that only Ghana stand between them and the top spot while Australia and Canada go into a crucial showdown for the second qualifying place from the group on Wednesday.

Honours are even between Australia and Norway, who have played each other 13 times with six wins apiece and a draw. The Matildas though won their last meeting, 3-0, in a 2005 friendly.

Australia are also riding high after snapping a 12-year World Cup winless streak with their victory over Ghana and feel they have nothing to lose against Norway.

"Win or lose, we are still in this group right to the end now," said Australia's Scottish coach Tom Sermanni.

The manner of the victory against Ghana as much as the result inspired the Matildas with confidence for their tough bout against former cup winners Norway, now ranked fourth in the world to Australia's 15th.

"We don't get to play many Europeans. But I think out team is good enough to play against anyone and we have a good chance against Norway," said Glasgow-born midfielder Collette McCallum, who supplied the ammunition for Australia's stable of fleet-footed strikers to fire on Ghana's goal.

Norway's coach Bjarne Berntsen said he was impressed with the Australian side's win and expected a tricky game against them.

"It will be a very different game (than against Canada) and a very important game. I was very impressed with the (Australian) result and they have some very quick players up front," he said.

Canada, the 2003 World Cup semi-finalists, have to regroup after losing to Norway 2-1 despite going 1-0 up in the first half.

Midfielder Kara Lang, 20, who played in Canada's 2003 World Cup run to the last four, said the team had to work on a basic flaw -- running out of steam in the second half.

"I would have to admit that it's been a bit of a weakness of ours -- we just don't seem to come out as hard in the second half," she said.

"That's something we'll need to look at and, if we can, try to address before playing Ghana on Saturday."

Ghana earned praise from Australia's coach for their skill and ability to dominate possession and Canada will not be taking the game against the Africans lightly.

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