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2012 Olympics: Soccer - It may not be Gold but Bronze would suit Canada just fine
After capturing the imagination of millions across our great nation during Monday's heartbreaking semi-final against Team USA, the Canadian women's soccer team will now set their sights on France and a chance at earning a trip to the podium. They'll be looking to end Canada's drought of 76 years, without winning a team medal, at the Summer Games.
Edmonton - August 9, 2012 - After capturing the imagination of millions across our great nation during Monday's classic but heartbreaking semi-final battle against Team USA, the Canadian women's soccer team will now set their sights on France and a chance at earning a trip to the podium.
Led by their captain, Christine Sinclair, these ladies have become the talk of the Olympics over the last few days and are looking to end Canada's drought of 76 long years, without winning a team medal, of any colour, at the Summer Games.
While head coach John Herdman candidly referred to his players being "broken" after their gut wrenching defeat to the Americans, he and his players are well aware of what is still at stake. Pulling off the upset of the top side in the world would have been a monumental feat, no question. That being said, the goal coming in was to take home an Olympic medal and that dream is still very much alive.
Coming off what was the finest moment in the history of the women's national program, these girls could take it to a whole different level by bringing Canada their first team medal since 1936. While I have no doubt the players are well aware of the fact they are a "pretty big deal" back home, they likely have no real grasp of just "how big of a deal" they have become. It's something that rarely, if ever, happens with soccer in this country and something that has not happened with the women's game since the 2002 FIFA U-19 World Championships. It has been a very, very long time.
In France, Canada will be facing their fifth opponent in six matches, that are currently ranked inside FIFA's top ten and the fourth team seeded above their own seventh place spot. Not exactly the easy way to earn an Olympic medal but since when does Canada do anything the easy way? Especially when it comes to the beautiful game.
The French are no push over, as the sit sixth in the world rankings and are the only team outside of Canada, who have managed to get a ball past goalkeeper Hope Solo in the Team USA goal. They can score goals, evident by their 4-0 thrashing of Canada at the 2011 World Cup, but like every other side in the women's game, they have holes on the backend...which is something this current edition of Team Canada, are more than capable of exposing.
Even if you set aside the career defining performance from Sinclair on Monday against Team USA, the play of the Burnaby native and running-mate Melissa Tancredi, has been nothing short of world class. While the Canadian side have been solid throughout much of these games, especially central midfielder Desiree Scott, it has been the play making and finishing abilities of the pair upfront, that has put Canada in the position they currently sit.
American Abby Wambach is one goal back of Sinclair's six, for the top goal scorer in the Olympics, but is just one up on Tancredi, who has found the back of the net on four occasions. The Canadian duo have accounted for ten of their teams eleven goals and are likely salivating at the chance of attacking a somewhat defensively challenged French side.
Which brings me to Sinclair, who in my mind, will be the difference maker. Long considered one of the top female players on the planet, her reputation rocketed to another stratosphere with her hat-trick performance in the semi-finals. As they always say, never bet against talent,,,which is something the now twenty-nine year old has in spades.
As good as she was against the USA, I fully expect her to treat soccer fans to an encore presentation against France. This is her chance to leave a mark on the national stage and secure something that means everything to her and her teammates. At the moment, she frankly looks unstoppable and as long as those teammates can find a way to get her the ball, look for Sinclair to put this team on her back and will them to that Olympic medal they so cherish and Canadians everywhere are praying they win.
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