Canada arrived in Germany for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011™ full of ambition, determined to avoid another early exit from the competition after bowing out of the group stages at China 2007. Unfortunately, the hopes of coach Carolina Morace and her side would go unfulfilled, with the Canucks failing to collect a single point and finishing bottom of their section.
"It's a bittersweet feeling," said goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc following her side's defeat to Nigeria in their final Group A match. "It's hard to take that we couldn't even manage a point." Midfielder Kaylyn Kyle was similarly frustrated: "It's quite disheartening not to have picked up a single point, but if you don't score any goals, the team can't win. We didn't come here to lose every match."
*Sinclair stifled *
Canada's premature departure was particularly disappointing for their biggest name, Christine Sinclair. Billed as a potential star of the tournament, the 29-year-old suffered a broken nose in the competition's Opening Match against the hosts, which prevented her from showing her true colours.
"For me the tournament was one of mixed feelings," said the striker. "On the one hand there's the disappointment of going out, but on the other there are those amazing fans, they were extraordinary. I can't believe the people on the streets here actually knew who we were and recognised us."
Head coach Morace emphasised just how important a fully-fit Sinclair is to Canada's prospects: "It's a real pity that Christine was only able to function at 40 per cent. She's a very important player for us. She wanted to play without a mask in our final group game which shows how much it was hindering her performance. Of course we told her it was out of the question. The risk was too high."
"That's just the way it goes in football," continued the former Italy forward. "Sometimes you can't take part in a World Cup at all because of an injury. It's part and parcel of the game. You have to be able to win, but you also have to be able to lose. As coach of Canada I can understand Christine Sinclair's frustration. Even for me as a fan of women's football, it was a big shame that she was unable to show what a good player she is."
On the upside, Sinclair should get the chance to show the world what she is capable of in front of her home fans, with the next FIFA Women's World Cup set to take place in Canada. "I'm still young and I'll definitely be there for our World Cup on home soil. It was a top-quality tournament here in Germany. We need to start living up to expectations over the next four years, but the World Cup will be a great opportunity for us to prove ourselves," said the 162-time international.
Morace has also already begun planning for Canada 2015: "I definitely want to continue. Every coach wants to play more games, but it's not always that easy to organise. We need to have a clear preparation strategy for the 2015 World Cup in Canada. We need more players. We simply don't have enough in some positions. It's difficult to find players, so if anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears!"