Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mark my words: Christine Sinclair will play against France

In Canada's first game of the Women's World Cup, Captain Christine Sinclair suffered a broken nose when German defender Babett Peter elbowed her in the face early in the second half. She quickly went down and was taken off the pitch. Her nose was crooked and she was in pain but that didn't stop her from playing. She went back on a scored the first goal Germany's conceded since 2003 World Cup. 

Tuesday, Sinclair didn't train with her team because she struggled with pain while running. 

Yesterday, reports indicated Sinclair may be in jeopardy to play in tomorrow's match. 

Reading Anjali Nayar's blog, Morace's stressed Sincy's absence would be a huge blow to the team. She said Christine trained with the team today but it was slow and light, very different from the pace and intensity of play tomorrow. She also said the French coach, Bruno Bini, should use her team's loss as an advantage. 

Melissa Tancredi who's also had her fare share of broken noses, spoke out on the situation saying it doesn't look like Sinclair will start .

Doctor's say there's a 40% chance she won't play on Thursday. 

Christine herself commented saying it's up to the doctors and if they say she can't play, she won't.

If you doubted Sinclair would be in the starting line up for one second, I'm sorry to have to break it to you but you've been punked.

The match against France will determine who moves on to the second round and who's leaving Germany early. There is no chance in hell, Christine Sinclair, Captain Clutch, the new Chuck Norris, what ever you want to call her, will miss Canada's most important game of this World Cup thus far. 

Carolina Morace is smart, I think most people have determined this already and she'll use any advantage she can get - even if that means she has to fabricate a story herself. I strongly believe this is just a rumour stirred up to throw France off their game.

According to French veteran, Sonia Bompastor it won't affect their game plan at all.

"Imagine if we always adapted our tactics to whether a player was injured or not," said Bompastor. "No, we have our game and we play the way we play." -Anjali reported.

The only concern about Christine playing tomorrow is her quality of play. She'll most likely wear a nose protector mask (which will be red), will this limit Christine's vision? Probably not. Sinclair is a world class footballer and as we all witnessed Sunday, she has a high pain tolerance. Proven with real facts tweeted with the hashtag #ChristineSinclair (I highly recommend you get twitter to follow along with the phenomenon), playing with a mask will probably improve her performance. 

When will we officially find out if Christine will play? Probably not till an hour before match time. Luckily those who live in North America, it will be in the morning. 

The big game will be live on CBC and Coverage begins at 11:30am EST. If you're at work (only acceptable excuse) the replay will be at 7pm EST on Rogers Sportsnet. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 1 of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup

Day 1 of the 2011 Women's World Cup comes to an end. 4 goals, 2 expected wins and 1 broken nose.

Group A action got underway today in the 6th Women's World Cup. France faced Nigeria in the first match. Nigeria wasn't expected to come out with three points but they also weren't expected to hold a tight game against the European side. The Nigerians took full advantage of their speed which proved to be deadly against a gassed French team. Nigeria played a high back line, allowing them to attack, putting their athleticism to good use and pressuring France. 25 minutes in, Desire Oparanozie had a breakaway opportunity but shot it wide. It wasn't till the 57th minute where second half sub Marie-Laure Delie was in the right spot at the right time, scoring her 22nd goal in 21 appearances.

Should Nigeria continue their high pressure they could give Canada and Germany a run for their money. With Germany and Canada in their path, France could see an early exit if their fitness continue to be an issue.

The second match of the day was the feature match in front on 73,680 people: Canada vs Germany. Right from the get go drama filled Olympic Stadium in Berlin. Just 6 minutes after kick off, Christine Sinclair had a golden opportunity to put the Canadians up 1-0 but shot it high. Four minutes later Kersten Garefrekes climbed over Marie-Eve Nault, heading the ball past Erin McLeod. Just before half time Okoyino Da Mbabi slipped passed the unorganized Canadian defence and tucked away Germany's second goal.

Early in the second half, Christine Sinclair made her way down the final third where Babett Peter, defending the ball, slamed her elbow into the Canadian captain's nose. She was visibily hurt and taken off the pitch. Tears were streaming down her face, blood dripping out her nose. It was clear she had broken her nose. However there was no way she was leaving the game, forcing Morace to use her third and final sub. No, with her grit and passion, Christine Sinclair continued playing..

Canada held most of the possession, Germany had more chances - ringing two off the cross bar and a open net miss.

With eight minutes left, Sinclair got clipped, earning a free kick 25 yards out. Sincy stepped up to take the kick and curled a perfectly placed ball into the top right corner, ending Nadine Angerer's record of not conceding a goal in a World Cup match since 2003.

The final whitsle blew and the score ended in a respectable 2-1 loss for Canada.

If there's ever such a thing called a 'good loss" this would be it. Though shaky at times, Canada held their own and put up a good fight against the best women's football team in the world. They held most of the possession, produced some good chances and did not seem intimidated by the pro-German crowd. I liked the creative set pieces our ladies displayed, particularly the on towards the end of the match where Rhian Wilkinson played it short to Jonelle Filigno who then gave a square ball to Sinclair. Christine played a controlled ground ball to Candace Chapman about 40 yards out, crossed it to Emily Zurrer who's first touch was poor and trickled wide. It's nice to see Morace has some tricks up her sleeve.Credit also has to go to Erin McLeod who kept her composure and made some key saves for Canada. Nice to see her back in between the pipes on a big stage.

Although there were some good things that came out of this loss, Canada still needs to work on a few things. O'm no expert I'll be the first one to say it buy many times throughout the match our backline were unorganized. At times we just stood there a watched the ball. Our backline is usually rock solid. Should they see anything past Group A they'll need to clean that up and play to our potential.

Next up is the crucial game versus France on June 30th at 12pm ET. Will be live on CBC and

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Canadian Women's World Cup Roster

Karina LeBlanc | Unattached
Erin McLeod | Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Steph Labbe | Pitea IF, Sweden

Emily Zurrer | Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Candace Chapman | Western New York Flash, USA
Rhian Wilkinson | Lillestrom SK Kvinner, Norway
Marie-Eve Nault | Ottawa Fury
Robyn Gayle | Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Chelsea Stewart/M | Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Kaylyn Kyle | Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Diana Matheson | Lillestrom SK Kvinner, Norway
Carmelina Moscato | Unattached
Kelly Parker | Atlanta Beat, USA
Sophie Schmidt | Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Desiree Scott | Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Brittany Timko/F | Unattached

Christine Sinclair (c) | Western New York Flash, USA
Melissa Tancredi | | Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Jonelle Filigno | Rutgers University, USA
Christina Julien | Ottawa Fury
Jodi-Ann Robinson | Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Alternates: GK: Rachelle Beanlands D: Melanie Booth F: Chelsea Buckland F: Brooke McCalla

Friday, June 10, 2011

CSA reaches compensation agreement with Canadian women

A day after Morace announced she'll be remaining as head coach of the women's program the players and the CSA have reached an agreement over the compensation issue. 

“The Canadian Soccer Association is pleased that we have reached a resolution and we look forward to supporting the Women’s National Team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™ as well as the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament in Vancouver and the 2012 London Olympic Games,” stated Canadian Soccer Association General Secretary, Peter Montopoli.

Not other details were released on what sort of pay the players will receive. 

The players first made this issue public in February 2011 when they unanimously voted to boycott any future games. They later lifted their boycott after seeing progress being made when CSA officials came to meet with Morace in Rome.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Morace to remain head coach of the national team through London Olympics

Ealier today it was announced that head coach of the women's team, Carolina Morace will stay with the national team until at least post London Olympics 2012.  

“Carolina Morace has agreed to remain in her role as head coach of Canada’s Women’s National Team through to the 2012 London Olympic Games. Morace will also continue in her role as the head coach of the Women’s U-20 National Team.” the Canadian Press reported earlier today. 

Morace has been in a dispute with the CSA over compensation involving her players and control of the program overall. In February, Morace handed in a resignation letter stating she would step down as head coach following the Women's World Cup which starts June 26th. In support of her decision, her players unanimously voted on a boycott threatening to forfeit international games. The women then lifted their boycott after they saw progress being made when CSA officials flew to Rome to meet with Morace. 

Carolina made her decision because she's pleased with the level of commitment and resources from the CSA. 

"Now we are on the same page. Now we can compete with the best teams in the world" Morace said on a conference call. 

After learning Carolina's decision to honour her contract, CSA's general secretary Peter Montopoli said the agreement between both parties is "evidence that the CSA is deeply commited to the women's program:"

Since taking post as head coach of the women's program Carolina has lead her team to two Cyprus Cup championships ('09 &'11) and a CONCACAF Gold Cup championship. She's turned Even Pellerud's previous long ball system into a more technical, fitness oriented and direct style of play. 

"We are of course so grateful for everything she has done for our program. She has completely turned it around and brought a whole new meaning to Canadian women's soccer." Steph Labbe said. 
Defender Emily Zurrer went on to tell me "She has completely changed the way we view and play the game, making us faster, stronger and smarter on the pitch. the future of female soccer in Canada is extremely bright and we are proud and excited to have her as our leader until at least 2012." 

Along with the championships Canada has won under her leadership, Canada has risen to 6th place in FIFA's world ranking - the highest ever ranking for the country. 

"I know we will continue on a successful path with her leading the way." Labbe continued. 

When asked whether 2015 is in the cards, Morace responded "there's nothing that closes the door for us to be together in 2015."

The CSA is still in negotiations with the players with the compensation issue. After retaining legal counsel the players threatened to file a suit for binding arbitration with the Sports Dispute Resolution Center of Canada. The matter hasn't reached that extreme yet and Montopoli hopes to find a common ground before the World Cup begins.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Canada pull off late goal win against Hungary

In front of 150 spectators in Telki, Budapest, Canada faced Hungary in one of their final preparation matches before the Women's World Cup. 

The first half was evenly matched. In the second half, however, Canada took command of the game. 

It wasn't until in 87th minute where midfielder Diana Matheson scored the game winner for Canada. Carmelina Moscato cleared the ball from the 18 yard box down the left flank where Jodi-Ann Robinson gathered the bounce and played a square ball to Chelsea Buckland who then played it to Jonelle Filigno. Jonelle turned towards goal and fed the ball to Diana Matheson who took a few controlling touches then took a low shot past the right side of Hungarian 'keeper Réka Szőcs. 

Although Canada secured the win I can't help but to be slightly worried about Canada's scoring ability of late. Hungary is ranked 30th in the world. Even though rankings have little affect on a team's performance, Canada is a much stronger team than the Hungarians. Even in the Swiss series (1-1 D; 2-1 W) and the match versus Holland (2-0 W), Canada should have scored many more goals. Having a great performance and creating numerous opportunities is good but not good enough especially against teams like Germany. 

Canada did play somewhat of a "B" team with Christine Sinclair, Candace Chapman (still out with an injury) Emily Zurrer, Marie-Eve Nault, and the likes missing from the starting line-up but that's no excuse. Canada has a deep bench and scoring shouldn't be a problem, especially against weaker teams. They've proven they don't have to rely on Sinclair to score goals now they just need to exercise it. Let's just hope they're saving all the goal scoring for the World Cup. 

On another note: Brittany Timko earned her 100th cap for Canada. She is one of 7 players to reach this milestone. Brittany has been playing for Canada for 9 years now. She made her first appearance for her country in 2002 against Japan at the Tournoi international in Limoges, France. The 25-year-old hopes to make her third World Cup roster. Brittany also served as captain for this match.

Jodi-Ann Robinson also reached a milestone today earning her 50th cap for Canada when she replaced Christina Julien in the 58th minute. Coincidentally Jodi-Ann is the all-time leader for appearances as a substitute. She broke Andrea Neil's record on May 15th with now 35 appearances off the bench. Robinson made her first appearance for Canada when she was 16 back in 2005 in a friendly versus Germany. Should Jodi-Ann be named to the final roster it will mark the second time she'll participate in a Women's World Cup.

Congratulation to both women on an incredible achievement. 

Canada starting XI:                     
                       Booth (Zurrer 46'), Moscato, Gayle, Wilkinson
                  Kyle (Stewart 46'), Matheson, Schmidt (Buckland 81') 
                     Julien (Robinson 58'), Filigno, Timko (Scott 64')

Canada's bench: 
GK: Rachelle Beanlands, Erin McLeod, Stephanie Labbe
D: Candace Chapman, Marie-Eve Nault, 
M: Kelly Parker, Nicole Setterlund, 
F: Christine Sinclair, Melissa Tancredi, Brooke McCalla, Amelia Pietrangelo, 

Hungary startin XI: 
                        Szabó, Gál, Szeitl, Megyeri (Dóra Papp 64')
     Jakabfi (Gáspár 64'), Smuczer, Rácz (Szórádi 89'), Jakab (Benkő 74')
                                Pádár, Méry (Katalin Fogl 76') 

There are 27 players in camp. Only 21 will make the Women's World Cup Roster. 18 days till kick off.