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Canada won’t panic when faced with defensive tactics: Sinclair

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Christine Sinclair
The biggest matches of the upcoming CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers won’t be the group stage games or the final. It’s the two semifinal games that are the biggies. Both finalists get berths to the 2012 London Games; so winning the semifinal is the important task for the Canadian women’s national team. Winning the tournament as a whole would just be gravy. So, as team captain Christine Sinclair indicated Wednesday in a conference call, everything move coach John Herdman and the team makes is with eyes toward the semifinal. Herdman hinted that even Sinclair, the best women’s player, heck, the best soccer player, our country has produced, may get some bench time during the group stage, which begins Jan. 19 when Haiti faces Canada at B.C. Place. “In the case of rest, I’m not sure what the coach has planned for players,” said Sinclair. “Ideally they (the coaching staff) wants the players to be as fresh as possible for the semifinal game.” And rest becomes all the more important when playing on B.C. Place’s artificial surface. It takes longer for players to recover from games on turf, so games every couple of days will force teams to rotate squads. The Americans, who lost the World Cup final in 2011, are in the opposite pool. If, as expected, the Americans and Canadians win their groups, they can’t face each other till the final. But, as important as the semifinals will be, Canada still needs to get there. And Sinclair expects to see the so-called minnows Canada will face in the tournament to play very defensive styles and try to frustrate the home team. “It’s expected in a CONCACAF tournament that they will do anything they can to try and get the result. For some of the teams, that means bunkering down and then trying to catch us on the break.” And Sinclair admitted that this tactic caused the Canadian team a lot of frustration in the past — and the players didn’t handle it well. But, as part of the psychological preparations, that mental toughness that Herdman is trying to instill in the team, the team has discussed what will happen when they face the 10-players-behind-the-ball scenario. Don’t self-destruct. “It’d be nice to win 4-0 or 5-0, but we want the result.” The CSA said it is expecting a crowd ranging in the 6,000-7,000 range for the opener; better than the 4,500 spectators Canada’s women have averaged at home for CONCACAF matches over the past several years. RELATED: Herdman, Canadian women’s team ready to face frustration at Olympic qualifiers (CLICK) Player of the Year Sinclair admits she considered taking her game to Europe (CLICK)

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