CHENGDU, China (AFP) - Canada and star striker Christine Sinclair stands between Australia and World Cup history on Wednesday as the two rivals prepare to go head-to-head in their final group game.
A revelation of the 2007 tournament, Australia beat Ghana 4-1 in their opening game for their first World Cup win in 12 years then drew 1-1 with former world champions Norway.
The Matildas now stand on top of Group C level on points with Norway, a team ranked 11 places above them in the current world standings, with Canada third in the group and Ghana, already eliminated, bottom.
A draw against Canada here will be enough to put Australia through to the quarter-finals while the Canadians need a win. Norway go through if they win or draw against Ghana.
The challenge for Tom Sermanni, Australia's Scottish coach, is to pick the best side for the job against Canada, who reached the semi-finals in 2003 and will not be overawed by the occasion.
"We feel we have good ability throughout the squad, we are quite happy to make changes from game to game but in our next match we will put out our strongest XI to make sure we get the result we need," said Sermanni.
In just two games, Sermanni has used every single outplayer in the squad and has four young and ambitious strikers who are all challenging for a place in the crucial tie.
However, his best starting line-up could be the side that finished against Norway, including super sub Lisa De Vanna, a potential match winner who scored twice against Ghana and got the leveller against Norway after coming on after half-time in both ties.
"Lisa is special. She is quick, a great impact player, and a very important member of our team," said striker Sarah Walsh, another proven goal-scorer who was also a second-half replacement against Norway.
Canada also have something special in their 24-year-old striker Sinclair, who scored two against Ghana and made the chance against Norway. She is a big game player who will know what to expect on Wednesday.
The Canadians also believe they have beaten a major weakness -- lack of match fitness enducing second half fatigue that cost them victory against Norway.
Coach Even Pellerud said he expects a close game in Shanghai. The sides have met 13 times in the past, sharing honours with six wins and a draw.
"We have played several games against Australia before. They are always very even," he said. "It is going to be the same again, very even."
Norway have been patchy in their two group games so far, playing like potential champions in the second half against Canada and in the first against Australia.
If they could stitch two halves of similar quality together in one match, the Norwegians would be hard to beat, and too big a target for Ghana, the lowest ranked team in the tournament who are already out.
Ghana's potential as a skilful side has been apparent here, but they have squandered chances and had a share of misfortune too.
"Wednesday's match will be difficult for us because we are all very down. But we will give it our best," said striker Rumanatu Tahiru.
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