Canadian women set to kick balls in China's Four Nations Cup
Five months after winning their bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, Canada’s women’s soccer players will travel to China to get a taste of international competition at the Yongchuan Cup, also known as the Four Nations Cup, starting Saturday (January 12) in Chongqing, China.
But they will be playing without star player Christine Sinclair, who will be sitting out her FIFA-imposed four-game suspension, levied after her remarks about the Olympic officiating following Canada’s controversial semifinal extra-time loss to the U.S., the subsequent gold-medal winners.
Sinclair scored an Olympic-record six goals in last year’s tournament, including three in the semifinal loss, and won the Golden Boot award. Back home, she scored a national-record 23 goals in 2012 and was awarded both the Lou Marsh Award, given annually to Canada’s outstanding athlete, and the 2012 Bobbie Rosenfeld Award for female athlete of the year.
Canadian coach John Herdman still saved a spot on the roster for Sinclair, though, because of her experience, leadership, and her desire to be involved in every aspect of the team’s development leading up to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will be held in Canada in June and July of that year. (Six Canadian cities will host games for that quadrennial international tournament: Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, and Moncton.)
Canada will play three games—against Norway, China, and Korea Republic—at the Yongchuan Olympic Center: Saturday versus China; Monday (January 14) against Korea; and Wednesday (January 16) against Norway.
The Norway game will pit the young Canadian squad (including 12 bronze-medal veterans and seven youngsters who have yet to play at this international level) against its former national team coach, Even Pellerud.
Pellerud led the Canadian women for nine years, leaving after guiding the team as far as the Olympic quarter-finals in 2008. He coached the Norwegian women from 1989 to 1996, the year his charges won bronze in the Olympics.
Norway is currently ranked 12th in world standings; Canada rests at seventh.
The Canadian team—minus veterans Melissa Tancredi (school), Candace Chapman (injury), and Carmelina Moscato (injury)—includes four B.C. players besides Burnaby’s Sinclair.
They are: Karina LeBlanc (Maple Ridge), Jodi-Ann Robinson (Richmond), Sophie Schmidt (Abbotsford), and Emily Zurrer (Crofton).