Even-ing player's cap record

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

HANGZHOU, China -- It was the morning before Canada's match with Ghana and the question was about Andrea Neil's record.

"What record?" said coach Even Pellerud.

It was explained that Neil, the only player to make it to all four of Canada's FIFA Women's World Cup appearances, has 130 caps.

She's tied with Charmaine Hooper for most international games by a Canadian with 130.

You only get capped if you actually make it into a game.

She's played in 10 World Cup games, two fewer than Hooper.

"Let me tell you a story," said Pellerud.

"When I coached Norway, we played a game against the Czech Republic. Beat them 17-0. And I was highly criticized for not playing a particular player. One of the girls would have had her 50th cap if she'd played in that game.

"As I told everybody then, it is not my job to be kind to the players."

Neil, who did not play in Canada's 2-1 loss to Norway in the first game of the tournament, was not slated to start in the game here (CBC, 5 a.m. EDT).

"The situation in which she is most likely to play is late in the game when we are desperate to score a goal. I'd bring her in for corner kicks and free kicks. That's the time when Andrea will play."

Pellerud says she's the most important player not playing.

"She shows exceptional leadership. She sets a great example. Her playing time has been reduced and the way she handles it leaves a great impression.

"When I first came to the program, I wanted to have a close relationship with Andrea," he said. "She's been amazing."

He expects Neil will stay with the program in a coaching capacity when she calls it a career.

Neil says she's realistic about the record.

"The next generation of players will break all the records by a bunch," she said.

Christine Sinclair is 24 and the Ghana game is her 102nd game. Kara Lang doesn't turn 21 until October and this one makes it 65 for her.

And when it comes to World Cup games, Sinclair, Lang, Kristina Kiss, Diana Matheson, Brittany Timko and Rhian Wilkinson are all playing their eighth.

"I'm still here because I believe I can still impact the program," said the 36-year-old Neil. "Not just when I'm called upon. There is so much work that goes in before you take the field."

She said she's not nursing any injuries.

"Yeah, I'm healthy," she said. "I'm just old."


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