Home Global Game Africa Buchanan’s second yellow highlights why suspension rules need to be changed

Buchanan’s second yellow highlights why suspension rules need to be changed

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After beating world No. 5-ranked Australia in their Olympic tournament opener, the Canadian women were expected to walk all over Zimbabwe.

And that’s pretty well how it unfolded Saturday. The Canadians got a 3-1 win over the Zimbabweans in Sao Paulo.

Really, the only true man-bites-dog moment in the game came early in the second half, when centre back Kadeisha Buchanan got a yellow card for not yielding 10 yards on a Zimbabwean free kick. The question: Was it a brain freeze, or did she do it to be clear of card trouble when Canada goes to the quarters? With her second yellow in two games, Buchanan will be suspended for the group stage finale against the Germans. But, with Canada’s spot in the quarters all but assured, was it a Beckham yellow — getting a card intentionally so you can miss a lesser match and be clear of card trouble for the elimination game?

It’s an illustration of just how ridiculous the rules on yellow-card accumulation are. Two yellows over the space of several games in a tournament — really, it’s not worthy of a suspension. It takes players that fans want to see out of games. It is rule that serves no one. And, it is a rule that can be gamed. Look, if discipline is the key — why not move to a suspension for three yellows in a tournament, with no amnesties? At least, with three cards, there’s at least a greater pattern of misbehaviour.

Other than the card issue, it was smooth sailing for Canada.

In the seventh minute, Christine Sinclair’s clever turn lured two Zimbabwean defenders to both go to the space where the Canadian used to be; they crashed into each other. Sinclair was free to cross the ball into Beckie, who had her first shot saved but then stuck the rebound into the goal.

Replays indicated that there was some fortune to the goal, as Beckie looked to be a step offside on the initial cross from Sinclair.

After Diana Matheson hit the post, she got another chance in the penalty area after Zimbabwean defender Nobuhle Majika made a total hash of a simple defensive header. Instead of heading the ball out of the area, it grazed off the top of Majika’s head and went right towards Matheson. Zimbabwean keeper Chido Dringirai grabbed a hold of Matheson and the referee pointed to the spot — and Sinclair made it 2-0 with ensuing penalty kick.

Feeling charitable, the referee only have Dringirai a yellow for what looked to be a red-card offence. Considering that Beckie was likely offside on the first goal, no Canadian could really complain that Dringirai wasn’t sent off.

But, really, it felt like Zimbabwe could have had 15 players on the pitch and it wouldn’t have mattered. In the 34th, Beckie got her second, half-volleying Josee Belanger’s cross into the goal.

Canada didn’t score in the second, but Jessie Fleming and Belanger both picked up yellow cards, so it will be interesting to see if coach John Herdman chooses to protect them by not playing them against Germany.

Yet, Canada did yield a late goal. Sabrina D’Angelo got the start in goal and got caught wandering way out of her goal. After Buchanan gambled on a long ball into the Canadian half, she got caught out of position, as well. In the end, a series of errors led to Mavis Chirandu having nothing but an open net. The Canadians got caught playing the game in a state of cruise control, and a series of lazy mistakes was punished.

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