World Cup a once in a lifetime chance for Canada


One of the greatest players in the history of the women's game, Christine Sinclair is Canada's all-time top scorer and appearance leader. (Petros Karadjias/AP)

For the 23 players on Canada’s team, this is the stuff dreams are made of: the chance to win the World Cup on home soil. The moment couldn’t come at a better time for the program in this country, still on the upswing after the best-ever Bronze-medal finish in the London Olympics. And even as that momentum drives the team, bitterness is also fuelling them: memories of the crushing, last-place finish in the 2011 World Cup still haunt veteran players such as Christine Sinclair, for whom this is likely a last shot at the world’s biggest title. For Sinclair, this is also a last chance at something else: the kind of heroic performance that might finally earn her the best-female-player-alive title she’s flirted with her whole career.

World Cup team profiles: To read in-depth profiles of all 24 teams at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, CLICK HERE


Goalkeepers: Stephanie Labbé, Karina LeBlanc and Erin McLeod

Defenders: Kadeisha Buchanan, Allysha Chapman, Robyn Gayle, Carmelina Moscato, Marie-Eve Nault, Lauren Sesselmann, Rhian Wilkinson and Emily Zurrer

Midfielders: Jessie Fleming, Selenia Iacchelli, Kaylyn Kyle, Ashley Lawrence, Diana Matheson, Desiree Scott and Sophie Schmidt.

Forwards: Josée Bélanger, Jonelle Filigno, Adriana Leon, Christine Sinclair and Melissa Tancredi


There might not be a coach in the women’s game as loved by his team as John Herdman. The charismatic Englishman took a motivational approach to repairing a broken Canadian team when he took over after the 2011 World Cup, turning the side around in their heads first and on the pitch second. One Olympic bronze medal later, it’s clearly worked.

In his previous role as coach of New Zealand, Herdman led his team to two World Cups. But he’s never led a nation beyond the group stage. Failing to do so here would, of course, be an utter disaster. Fortunately, it’s also extremely unlikely.

Group A schedule

June 6: vs. China in Edmonton
June 11: vs. New Zealand in Edmonton
June 15: vs. Netherlands in Montreal

How they qualified

Automatically, as hosts.

Team strengths

Synergy. This team has been so together for so long that they’ve developed off-the-charts chemistry—“codependence” even, as midfielder Diana Matheson told Sportsnet Magazine. That chemistry and fight-for-the-team attitude is what carried the Canadians beyond a clearly superior French team in the bronze game in London. We’ll see how far it can carry them this summer.

Team weaknesses

Outside Sinclair, where do the goals come from? This is the problem Canada has been grappling with (or, if you’re being ungenerous, trying desperately to ignore) to years. Jessie Fleming may be “the next Christine Sinclair”, but next isn’t now—at 17 and with just 15 senior appearances and one goal to her credit, she’s not yet the answer. The truth is, it still all comes down to Sincy. When she falls off, Canada suffers. After the 2012 Olympics, when Sinclair went without a point for five games, Canada scored just one goal. When it happened again for 13 games over the turn or 2013-14, Canada was held goalless five times, and won just four times. The big problem? Sinclair—and, so, Canada—failed to score in their last two warm ups, against England and France. Just the kind of teams they’ll need to beat to succeed at the World Cup.

Player to watch

We’re going to assume that you already know you should be watching Christine Sinclair. In fact, such is her presence, if you’ve got a Canada game on, it’s impossible not to watch Sinclair.

But it behooves you to keep an eye out for Melissa Tancredi, generally on the left of Canada’s attack. A prolific goalscorer in her own right, with four goals in the team’s run to Olympic bronze, the powerful forward known as “Tanc” also excelled as provider-in-chief to Canada’s talismanic captain. Her chemistry with Sinclair was key, as Tancredi’s pull-back and crosses seems laser guided.

With 99 caps, the 33 year old will be looking to mark her century of caps in the opener on June 6 with a bang. Don’t bet against her doing it.

Burning question

How big is home-field advantage? Let’s keep things in perspective: the bronze at London 2012 was—by far—Canada’s best top-level result. With that awesome result coming off the back of an equally awful 2011 Cup, it’s hard to know exactly what to make of this team right now. We do know that they’ll get a massive boost from the home fans, but whether that will be enough to get Canada deep—like, really deep—is suspect. There are a number of teams in the mix here who are (as objectively as can be in sports) better than Canada. But if Canada can find the right form at the right time, they are talented enough to hurt the best on Earth. Only one way to find out for sure.

World Cup history

1991 – Did not qualify
1995 – Group stage
1999 – Group stage
2003 – Semifinals (4th place)
2007 – Group stage
2011 – Group stage

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