Mon, September 23, 2013

Canadian soccer women top South Africa

Christine Sinclair scores in crucial victory

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency


Canada's Christine Sinclair controls the ball against South Africa during their Group F match at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the City of Coventry Stadium in Coventry, England, July 28, 2012. (ALESSANDRO GAROFALO/Reuters)


COVENTRY, ENGLAND - A pair of insurance goals by Burnaby, B.C.’s Christine Sinclair gave Canada a 3-0 win over South Africa Saturday and a chance to qualify for the women’s Olympic soccer quarterfinals.

Melissa Tancredi of Ancaster, Ont., gave Canada the early 1-0 lead in the seventh minute on a pass from Diana Matheson of Oakville, Ont. She scored the only Canadian goal in Wednesday’s loss to Japan, the reigning World Cup champion.

“Melissa is scoring goals and I think that’s taken a little bit of weight off Christine’s shoulders,” said coach John Herdman.

Sinclair pounced on a header rebound in the 58th minute to double the lead. She added another in the 86th at City of Coventry Stadium. Sinclair’s goals mean she improved to 139 career goals in international play.

Goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc of Maple Ridge, B.C., got the shutout.

Canada meets Sweden on Tuesday in Newcastle. A win would automatically qualify Canada for the quarterfinals. A loss or tie would mean relying on the results of others to advance in the 12-team tournament.

“Their greatest strength is they’re very disciplined, organized,” Herdman said of the Swedes. “That might also be their greatest weakness.”

Herdman’s team is aiming to become the first Canadian summer team to win an Olympic medal for Canada since the men’s basketball team was runner-up at Berlin 1936.Canada bounced back nicely in Olympic women's soccer Saturday, topping South Africa 3-0.

Following a 2-1 tournament-opening loss to Japan earlier this week, the Canadian squad rode a strong second half to a much-needed win against a largely overmatched South African squad.

Christine Sinclair, Canada's scoring star, was criticized for being barely visible during the loss to Japan.

She broke out Saturday, though, netting the second and third goals that gave Canada some breathing room en route to the victory.

Also scoring for Canada was Melissa Tancredi of Ancaster, Ont., with her second goal of these Olympics.