Mon, September 23, 2013

Soccer team needs to bear down against South Africa

By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency


Canada's Kaylyn Kyle is knocked down by Japan's Aya Miyama in the first half of an Olympic soccer between Canada and Japan at Coventry Stadium in London, England on July 24, 2012. (DAVE ABEL/QMI Agency)


COVENTRY, ENGLAND - The Canadian women's soccer team now turns its attention to South Africa and is not taking anything for granted.

Although Canada is ranked seventh in the world and South Africa 61st, the Canadians realize they can't let up because a draw or loss on Saturday would make qualifying for the Olympic quarterfinals that much more difficult.

Canada's third game in the opening round is against fourth-ranked Sweden next Tuesday and it has to start collecting points after a 2-1 loss Wednesday to Japan. Sometimes the toughest games to win our the ones you're supposed to win.

"By far, I think, they are the hardest games (to win) because everyone kind of lets their foot off the pedal a little bit," Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod said. "I think what we learned from the (2011) World Cup is no matter who we're playing we have to show up."

Canada likely will need superstar forward Christine Sinclair to show up Saturday and next Tuesday. The native of Burnaby, B.C., played hard in the loss to Japan but didn't get many chances.

"Everyone knows who she is, so they're going to defend hard against her," said forward Melissa Tancredi, who scored against Japan. "(Sinclair) didn't get involved as much as we wanted her to (against Japan), but I think it's my role (to step up) when that doesn't happen. We'll try to figure out ways to getting her more on the ball and get her more chances (to) turn in front of the goal."

The Canadians were pleased with their efforts in opening-round play against Japan, but midfielder Diana Matheson said now it's time to get points.

"Moral victories aren't going to get us in the next round," she said.