Home Uncategorized Canada beats South Africa, but shorthanded side still has plenty to do

Canada beats South Africa, but shorthanded side still has plenty to do

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Christine Sinclair
Canada got the expected win Saturday over South Africa; but there are plenty of worries as Big Red heads into its Olympic group-stage finale against Sweden. Because Sweden drew Japan 0-0 Saturday, both the Japanese and Swedes are on four points, while the Canadians have three. Now, you have to assume that Japan will beat South Africa in their final group stage match. The Japanese would go to seven points, so it wouldn’t be possible for Canada to catch them. So, if Canada does anything but beat the Swedes, it will finish third in the group and hope that it does well enough in the goal-difference battle to earn one of the two wild card berths into the quarters. If Canada beats Sweden, it knows that it moves on. But, coming out of the win over South Africa, the nagging question is: Who will pair at centre back with Carmelina Moscato? Emily Zurrer hasn’t played yet because of an ongoing injury issue. Candace Chapman hobbled out of the 2-1 loss to Japan and is out. Then, on Saturday, Robyn Gayle, a fullback filling in as the fourth centre back on the depth chart, collided with South Africa’s Andisiwe Mgcoyi — and had to leave the game. And, while Canada ended up winning comfortably, Gayle did have some worrying moments in the back, not getting her head to crosses coming into the box, and being hesitant in choosing her assignments. Now, will there be another apprentice playing one of the most important positions in the park against Sweden? If Canada loses or draws to Sweden, our women’s team might not celebrate the three goals scored against South Africa; the players might look to a lot of the chances that went begging. Diana Matheson hit the woodwork twice — once in each half. Jonelle Filigno had a header go off the frame of the goal. Canada’s goal difference is +2; but what could work out well for this country is that in Group E, New Zealand — expected to be in the mix in a group with Brazil and Great Britain — has lost both of its first two matches. That gives Canada a nice wild-card advantage going into matchday three. But the Kiwis face the minnows from Cameroon on the final day. (Two of the three third-place finishers will go through) Canada got the opening goal thanks to some great awareness from midfielders Sophie Schmidt and Matheson. The ball went into touch; as the South Africans were resetting their defensive responsibilities, Schmidt threw the ball back in quickly, hitting Matheson, who was on a dead run down the right side. Matheson hit a low cross into the box that Melissa Tancredi simply touched towards goal. Christine Sinclair scored twice in the second half to increase the margin. But, goal difference being so important in this tournament, it would have been nice to see the Canadians show a little more urgency after the goals; picking the ball up and racing it back to the kickoff dot rather than prolonged celebrations. Sinclair’s first came off a header; her effort came off the underside of the bar and crossed the line, but the goal wasn’t given. Thankfully, before we could start another goal-line technology discussion, Sinclair followed her shot towards goal, pounced on the rebound and made sure. Sinclair added the insurance on a breakaway late in the game. Considering the the Swedes beat the South Africans by a three-goal margin, the result was decent enough for Canada. But Japan did Canada no favours today by allowing the Swedes to get a draw. And, with Canada’s back line situation being anything but clear, Canadian fans are understandably uneasy. RELATED: After Olympic loss to Japan, we will now see if mental preparations paid off for the Canadian women (CLICK) Herdman and Canadian women’s team working out the final details ahead of Olympics (CLICK)

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