By Steve Keating
VANCOUVER (Reuters) - England coach Mark Sampson expects his players to bring their best to their Women's World Cup quarter-final against Canada and challenged officials to do the same on Friday.
With a raucous capacity crowd of close to 55,000 expected to fill BC Place for Saturday's clash, Sampson put down an early marker urging the game officials not to swayed or intimidated. He also said that Canada had already benefited from some home cooking so far in the tournament.
"The facts are that in the group stage Canada have been awarded more fouls than their opponents in every game," Sampson told reporters.
"It is going to be difficult for the officials, a very intimidating environment."
Canada has been called for 47 fouls and five yellow cards in its four matches compared to the 55 fouls and four yellows awarded to the opposition.
But Sampson told the Guardian newspaper that according to an official the England team have on staff, Canada could have had four times as many fouls.
Canadian coach John Herdman was not making any apologies for his squad's rough-and-tumble style which at times has been compared to the grinding, hard-hitting approach Canada employs on the ice hockey rinks.
"We will be going out there as physical as we can and just doing what Canadians do, seeing that Canadian grit," said Herdman. "We will be the typical Canadian team you've seen over the last few years. We know that Canada is known for its grit and its aggressive DNA."
In getting to the last eight Canada did not lose a game but did not win any style points either.
The Canadian defense has been air-tight in conceding just one goal in four contests, but their play on the attack has been uninspiring, scoring just twice in regulation time.
Instead Canada has relied on its grit and home support to help make up for some glaring shortcomings.
Sampson described Canada as the most aggressive side in the tournament but made it clear England was prepared to give as good as it gets.
"We're aware of what type of team we are going to face, we're aware of the potential circumstances, whatever cards we've been dealt we have to play our best," said Sampson.
"Canada are an aggressive team but so is my England team. We are certainly willing to put our foot in when we need to."
(Editing by Cameron French)