THE CANADIAN PRESS
CANCUN, Mexico — Captain Christine Sinclair showed her world-class scoring credentials Sunday, collecting four goals and helping set up a fifth as Canada defeated an outmatched Guyana side 8-0 in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying play Sunday.
The goals brought Sinclair’s international total to 106 in 142 games, surpassing Canadian coach Carolina Morace’s 105 as a player. The 27-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., was one of 10 nominations announced last week for FIFA’s world female player of the year.
Jonelle Filigno added two goals and Christina Julien and Kara Lang also scored for Canada, which led 2-0 at the half.
Later Sunday, Mexico beat Trinidad and Tobago 2-0, clinching a semifinal berth for both Canada and Mexico.
The offensive outburst was welcome after Canada was held to one goal in its 1-0 opening win over Trinidad and Tobago.
"It’s always nice to score goals and for our team to put a lot in," Sinclair said. "Especially since our last game, we created so many chances and couldn’t seem to find the back of the net, so it’s always nice to see them go in."
Canada is ranked 13th by FIFA, 72 places ahead of Guyana, known as the Lady Jags.
Canada and Mexico finish off pool play Tuesday with first place in Group A — and a good possibility of avoiding the dangerous Americans in the semifinals — at stake.
The lopsided win Sunday greatly helped Canada’s chances. With a plus-9 goal differential to Mexico’s plus-7, Canada needs only a tie to finish first in Group A.
Mexico thumped Guyana 7-2 in its opener.
Sinclair acknowledged Canada will have to be aggressive early against the tournament hosts on Tuesday.
"It’s a matter of not giving up a goal early, and to put pressure on Mexico early to take the crowd out of it," Sinclair said.
The top two finishers in each group will cross over in the semifinals with the winners booking their places in the 2011 FIFA World Cup in Germany. The winner of the third-place match will compete in a two-game playoff against Italy, which won the playoff for fifth place in Europe, for the final berth in Germany.
CONCACAF covers North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The U.S. and Costa Rica, both 2-0, have already assured themselves of advancing to the semifinals out of Group B. The two teams play Monday to determine who wins the group.
The top-ranked Americans have outscored their opposition 14-0 in two games.
Morace made six changes Sunday, sitting out goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc, Marie-Eve Nault, Emily Zurrer, Josee Belanger, Diana Matheson and Melissa Tancredi.
Sinclair said the depth of Canada’s team allowed Morace to confidently make those changes and give some players a break.
"I think that’s one thing this team his that we haven’t had in the past," Sinclair said. "Every player on our roster is very talented and a bunch of them cam in today and made a huge difference and allowed other players to get some rest. Which is nice, because obviously the game against Mexico is going to be a big one."
After a slow beginning, the Canadian women began to turn the screws on the young Guyana team in what became one-way traffic.
Julien was wide on a mis-hit after Sinclair squared the ball from the goal-line in the eighth minute. Sophie Schmidt was high in the 10th with a right-footed shot off a corner.
Julien connected in the 15th minute off a throw-in, tucking a left-footed shot inside the penalty box into the corner when the Guyana defence went missing.
Candace Chapman hit the post five minutes later from the edge of the penalty box after a loose clearance. Lang then was wide with a volley in the 24th.
Sinclair made it 2-0 in the 34th minute off the Canadians’ seventh corner of the game. Guyana goalie Catherine Kobelka came out for the ball and dropped it, with Sinclair pouncing on the error.
Sinclair had won the corner after been sent wide by a diving ‘keeper and subsequent clearance by a defender on a breakaway.
Kobelka stopped a Lang shot in the 42nd minute.
Filigno, who replaced an ailing Julien late in the first half, made it 3-0 less than a minute into the second half, set up in front of goal by Lang. Sinclair made it 4-0 in the 50th, acrobatically tapping in a free kick.
Sinclair almost got her third in the 54th minute when she beat Kobelka to another corner only to direct the ball wide. But she got her third in the 63rd, slotting home a through ball from Filigno.
She added a fourth for a 6-0 Canada lead in the 75th minute with a slick left-footed shot from outside the penalty box after Guyana failed to clear. One minute later, Sinclair unselfishly set up Filigno to make it 7-0.
Lang increased the lead to 8-0 in the 89th, banging home a Filigno pass from short range.
The Lady Jags, making their first appearance in the CONCACAF women’s finals, are coached by Canadian Mark Rodrigues. Several members of his team also have Canadian ties.
"I give them credit, they’re a very young team that battled for 90 minutes," Sinclair said.