Tancredi & Sinclair: We’re back in the race
© AFP

When Christine Sinclair and Melissa Tancredi are on song, any defence in the world would have a hard time coping with them. And after the strike duo turned on the style at the 2012 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Coventry on Saturday, the relief in the Canada camp was tangible.

First, Tancredi struck the opening goal, before Sinclair netted a brace to secure a 3-0 win over South Africa. It was just the response the side needed, having lost 2-1 to world champions Japan in their opening Group F game.

For the match-winning pair, the result represents the beginning of a new chapter after what they consider to have been a disappointing FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011™.

Olympic explosion
“It feels great to be back in the race,” a smiling and visibly relieved Tancredi told FIFA.com after the match. “The time has come for me to show what I can do. I’m approaching the end of my career and there’s a lot I want to achieve at these Olympics.”

The fact that she has come good at London 2012 of all events can surely be no coincidence. At Beijing 2008, Tancredi’s superb displays won over the hearts of the fans. “It seems like fighting for gold at the Olympics brings out the best in me,” said the 30-year-old with typical enthusiasm. Nevertheless, she is also keen to lay the groundwork for Canada to be able to shine when they host the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015.

'As a duo we’re something special'
Tancredi is one of the key elements in the success of coach John Herdman’s team. Sinclair, one-and-a-half years her junior, is another. Thanks to her two strikes on Saturday, she moved up to third in the world’s all-time ranking, just a goal behind Abby Wambach (140), and fast approaching top scorer Mia Hamm (158).

We’ve been playing together for so long now that we know each other inside out. As a duo we’re something special.
Melissa Tancredi on her partnership with Christine Sinclair

“Christine in one of the best strikers on the planet,” Tancredi told FIFA.com. “I think I can help her either by setting her up or by scoring myself. We’ve been playing together for so long now that we know each other inside out. As a duo we’re something special.”

Give and take
Herdman is delighted to have both of them at his disposal. “On some days there’s just no stopping Christine,” said the coach. “But the fact that Melissa scores as well takes some of the weight off Christine’s shoulders. It shows that there’s more to us than just Christine. We depended on her for too long.”

For Sinclair herself, individual accolades are of secondary importance, as she told FIFA.com in an exclusive interview: “I’m not thinking about pulling level with Abby [Wambach] or even overtaking her. I’m happy to do without the record as long as I can win a medal, maybe even gold, with my team.”

Tancredi herself may also be able to break a record during these games, and one currently held by Sinclair at that. The latter’s four goals at Olympic tournaments is a national best, with the former just one behind.

“If we’re both getting the goals to compete for this record that’s fine by me,” Tancredi said with a loud, contagious laugh. “That will mean that we’re being successful and that’s good for all of us.”

In the third and decisive group game in Newcastle on Tuesday, opponents Sweden will need to watch out for the amicable Canadian duo, who have developed quite a taste for scoring at the Olympics.