MONTPELLIER, Fra. — Desiree Scott admits she has mellowed with age and as the elder stateswomen in Canada’s midfield, the 31-year-old is a better player for it.
Scott will be participating in her third FIFA Women’s World Cup when Canada kicks off the 2019 tournament here June 10 against Cameroon.
The Winnipeg product is still the heartbeat of the Canadian midfield, but has added an offensive element to her game while tempering her approach to winning tackles.
“Before I was just sort of a ball winner, ‘The Destroyer’, get stuck in and I loved that part about my game,” Scott said. “It’s something that I can always come back to and rely on; knowing that I can make that first tackle, be that ball-winner for this team.
“But now, I’ve tried to work on my attacking side. I’m breaking up play, now what can I do next? Sometimes I’m starting our attack at the back and I’m sort of that glue to connect and find those players that can do magic on the ball, the Jessie Flemings, the Sophie Schmidts the Christine Sinclairs. Now I’m focused on not just winning the ball, but what can I do after I do win it?”
Scott made her World Cup debut in 2011 as a substitute under then coach Carolina Morace. Canada crashed out of the tournament at the group stage that year and Morace was replaced by John Herdman shortly thereafter.
Under Herdman, Scott became a regular and took over the holding midfield position. She stood out with her relentless pursuit of the ball and an ability to win the majority of her challenges. There is a reason Scott became known as The Destroyer, leaving a bevy of opponents in her wake.
“To win the ball, I think anticipation is important,” Scott said. “If you can, you read the game, kind of sort of figure out where they’re going to pass it before they actually play it. I find I do that quite well, that quick-change direction and agility, you can make up the ground quickly. Just reading the game and that fearlessness and that hunger to want to win the ball.”
While there is still plenty left in the engine after nine years and 143 international appearances for her country, Scott now works the middle of the field with a more efficient approach.
“I think before I would just chase the ball and you were kind of like a chicken with your head cut off,” Scott said. “It was more ball-oriented. But now I can pick out situations where now there is an opportunity for me to win it and to time my moments and to pick my moments and find those spaces where it’s more likely to win the ball.”
FOUR MORE YEARS
An emotional Gianni Infantino took to the podium at the 69th FIFA Congress in Paris on Wednesday after being re-elected president.
Infantino, 49, was first elected president at the 2016 FIFA Extraordinary Congress, which came as a result of the corruption case against soccer’s global governing body the previous year.
“In just over three years, this organization went from being toxic, almost criminal, to being what it should be; an institution that develops football,” Infantino said in his acceptance speech. “This new FIFA has a mission and a plan for it, which is why the next four years have, in fact, already started. We have laid solid building blocks for the future.”
Infantino is the ninth president in the history of FIFA. He ran unopposed and was elected by acclamation by FIFA’s 211 member associations.
The next FIFA Congress will be held in May 2020, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
TEAM CANADA IN FRANCE
Canada arrived in Montpellier on Tuesday evening after spending two weeks in Spain preparing for the World Cup. The team then held their official welcome ceremony.
Canada is scheduled to have their first official training session Thursday leading into their opening game against Cameroon on Monday.
Despite being favoured against Cameroon, Canada will not take the two-time World Cup qualifiers lightly. Cameroon made its World Cup debut in Canada four years ago and qualified past the group stage before losing to China in the second round.
“It will be really key to start this tournament off strong,” said Canadian defender Kadeisha Buchanan. “We have a lot of experience against African teams, they do play a similar style, so we have that covered. Looking at Cameroon’s roster a lot of their players do play professionally. I know a couple of them play in Ligue 1 (France) and I’ve played against a couple of them.
“They’re not going to be easy to beat, so it’ll be a good game for us to go in and not underestimate Cameroon, because they’ll be coming out strong.”
On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest
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