Canadian women thumped

Kaylyn Kyle of Canada (right) heads the ball past Gaetane Thiney of France during their Women's...

Kaylyn Kyle of Canada (right) heads the ball past Gaetane Thiney of France during their Women's World Cup match in Bochum, Germany on June 30, 2011. (REUTERS/Ina Fassbender)

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:29 PM ET

What was supposed to be a defining moment in Canada's women's soccer program turned into one of utter despair.

Canada played France in a game it hoped would open the door to the quarterfinal round of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.

Instead it wound up an embarrassing 4-0 loss to France.

Coupled with Germany's 1-0 win over Nigeria, the shock result eliminated the Canadians from the tournament.

The result will throw a pall on a women's program that gave Canadian soccer some hope. Up until the World Cup, the women's team had produced positive results and a positive vibe.

Everyone had heard much about the improved quality of Canada's play yet, when the pressure was on, Canada reverted to its old style of kick and chase football. It was almost as if the ball was too hot to touch. No one seemed to want to carry it or hold it long enough to do anything creative with it.

"We have to say that the French played much better than us," Canada's coach, Carolina Morace, said. "They didn't make mistakes."

That was kind to say the least.

There was nothing positive for Canada in this game. In truth, the Canadians looked as if they had regressed, not progressed, with their game.

Canada entered the tournament with high hopes.

Before meeting France, the big question was whether Canada's top player, Christine Sinclair, would play after suffering a broken nose in the opener.

Sinclair was in the starting lineup wearing a mask but she was virtually invisible.

"Maybe if Christine was at 100% we would have been able to maintain more pressure up front," Morace said.

Not with the lack of help Sinclair had.

She wasn't the problem. The problem stemmed from a midfield that was devoid of ideas.

While the French pushed the ball around often ending with a French midfielder slicing open the Canadian defence with delicate passes, the Canadian midfield looked pedantic, without direction and fearful.

Even the few times when Canada managed to attack, the midfield would hang back timidly, affording no support to the attack.

The defence were ponderous in its defending and slow to clear, often losing track of French attacking players.

"There were too many individual mistakes and on the other end we couldn't finish. When you let in that many goals and you can't finish your chances you're not going to win the game," midfielder Diana Matheson told CBC Television.

Amen to that.

For a game with such great importance, Canada showed almost nothing.

France went up 1-0 in the 24th minute when a deflected ball found the head of Gaetane Thiney who beat Canadian keeper Erin McLeod.

Thiney punched Canada's ticket home with a tremendous strike early in the second half. From just outside the penalty area, she curled a perfect shot off the post into the net.

Camille Abily and Elodie Thomis scored the other goals for France. All four goals were well taken, but the Canadian defending was horrendous.

The game demonstrated a marked difference in skill level. Les Bleues were able to hold the ball and take the ball comfortably.

Canada had chances early but players such as Rhian Wilkinson, Kaylyn Kyle and Jonelle Filigno all failed to take the ball with their first touch.

"Skills made the difference," France coach Bruno Bini said. "The goal is to have the whole team play well.

"The whole team played brilliantly. We raised the level when we needed to and were very strong technically."

He was 100% correct.

Morace who has had her issues with the Canadian Soccer Association in the past, used the moment to issue a challenge toward the betterment of the game.

"Canada has to decide what to do," she said. "If (Canada) wants to have a good national team, it has to create a league where the women can play every week."

She is referring to the fact the most of the French players play on one club side.

But what the loss to France proves is that there is a more immediate need for Canada. That need is to develop skill from a young age and to identify the most promising players so that the same old names don't appear in the national team program year after year.


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