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Canada’s captain looking forward to facing New Zealand June 15 in Group E game at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup
GRENOBLE — Christine Sinclair did not get the lava cake rumoured to be coming for her birthday celebration Wednesday and had to settle for chocolate instead.
Regardless, Canada’s captain was in good spirits following a training session Thursday and is looking forward to facing New Zealand here Saturday in their second Group E game at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Canada is currently tied for first in the group standings with the Netherlands after defeating Cameroon 1-0 in its opening match Monday in Montpellier.
“I think they’re (New Zealand) a team that’s going to be fighting for their World Cup lives, they’ve never won a game in a World Cup and we know they’re out trying to get a win and get out of the group,” Sinclair said. “They’ve, obviously, improved a lot over the last couple of years and it’s going to be a battle. As you’ve seen most games in this World Cup have been tight.”
New Zealand lost 1-0 to the Netherlands on Tuesday in Le Havre on a late goal in second-half stoppage time. New Zealand are participating in their fourth-consecutive World Cup and fifth overall, and have yet to win a match or make it out of the group stage.
Four years ago at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, New Zealand held Canada to a scoreless tie, but it was not enough to move on to the second round along with the hosts.
“I remember, I think there was a lightning delay 10 minutes in or something like that,” Sinclair said. “It was just chaos and back then, there was a bit more history with our teams with John (Herdman) being their old head coach and he was ours. There was a lot more tension I’d say. They’re a well-organized team and they’ve have some very decent results this past year, especially a victory against England (1-0, June 1).”
New Zealand is coached by Tom Sermanni, who was on Canada’s staff four years ago at the World Cup. Sermanni is also a former coach of the United States women’s national team.
“I think we know what we’re getting into, they’re a well-organized team, lethal on the counterattack and set pieces,” Sinclair said. “We’re hoping to be able to dominate the game and live in their half. But these World Cup games you never quite know what to expect.”
A tie would likely be good enough to secure a place in the second round for Canada. Overall, Sinclair was happy with their performance against Cameroon and is looking for something similar against New Zealand.
“I think we’ll have a similar strategy to that against Cameroon, trying to dominate as much as possible,” said Sinclair, who is four goals away from the all-time international scoring record. “They’ll be dangerous on the counter attack, they have some fast forwards, maybe we can score a couple more goals, that would be nice, but anything to get the three points.”
Canada did well to keep possession against Cameroon and worked themselves into dangerous spots, but were reluctant to pull the trigger on a number of opportunities looking for the perfect play.
Against New Zealand, Canada is looking to test goalkeeper Erin Nayler, who had an outstanding game against the Netherlands, making seven saves.
“She’s a good goalkeeper, but coming away from that first game against Cameroon, we need to take more shots,” said fullback Ashley Lawrence. “We have a lot of players who have great shots and I think that we can put it in the back of the net regardless of who is in net and that’ll be the difference for us going into this second game.”
Outside of the goal scored by defender Kadeisha Buchanan on a corner kick late in the first half, Canada were unable to convert on a number of good opportunities against Cameroon.
“You’re at the World Cup, you’re not going to get a ton of chances,” Sinclair said. “It’s about team effort, just to try and create set plays. We spend so much time trying to create set plays for ourselves and we got a bunch against Cameroon and, luckily, we finished one off. These games are all about chances and making the most of them.”
DELIVERING THE GOODS
Janine Beckie was on the mark with her corner kick leading to the lone goal against Cameroon. The Canadian midfielder has become a world class dead-ball taker and is looking to continue sending quality crosses into the box against New Zealand.
“It’s repetition and practice, just like anything else,” Beckie said. “I think some people have more of a natural ability than others to strike a ball. I credit my youth career to that, I had coaches that were very good at coaching technique, so I have to give a shutout to them. We do a lot of work on set pieces because it’s something that we’ve been good at for a long time, so we take a lot of time and a lot of pride in doing it right.”
Beckie wasn’t always at the delivering end of free kicks and corners, but has become adept at taking them for Canada.
“I love to score goals, so most of the time I tried to be on the other side of it, but I’ve come into that role on this team,” she said. “But I think what’s special about this team is that it doesn’t have to be who takes them, we have a lot of natural ball strikers on this team so I think that will be key for us going on further in this tournament that we have multiple threats on set pieces.”
On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest
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