Canada face the Netherlands with both through to the last 16
Christine Sinclair & Co are confident after two straight wins
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By Mona Yeganegi with Canada
It’s déjà vu for Canada as they once again face the Netherlands in the FIFA Women’s World Cup group stage. These two teams met four years ago, drawing 1-1, and then – as now – both qualified for the last 16.
Christine Sinclair fully expects the Dutch to present Canada’s toughest test yet. “They are European champions and they are a very talented bunch, with three world-class forwards,” she said. “It will be a step up in level - definitely a different kind of game than what we've had in the first two.”
While qualification is assured for both, top spot is at stake. For the Netherlands, a draw will be enough, as they have scored one more goal than Canada. But the Canadians believe they can snatch a win. “We're very confident in our capabilities,” said defender Kadeisha Buchanan. “We're not saying it's going to be an easy game; we just know we're always going to be up for the fight.”
Sinclair sees plenty of development in Canada and the Netherlands since that 2015 draw. “Both teams have improved tremendously,” she said. “The style of play is completely changed and youngsters who were experiencing their first World Cup in 2015 are now leaders in these teams.”
Canada go into this game unbeaten in ten, having kept nine clean sheets in that run. And while keeping that streak going against a high-scoring team like the Netherlands will be easier said than done, Sinclair sees reason to believe. As she reflected: “I don't think our keeper had to make a save against New Zealand.”
Sinclair’s pursuit of Abby Wambach’s international scoring record remains the subject of interest, with just three goals separating the two striking legends. But the Canada captain has cut a subdued and, at times, frustrated figure at the tournament thus far, registering several near misses.
“I think I'm playing a crossbar competition in this tournament!” she said, laughing. But Sinclair remains unfazed by the record and her ‘drought’ at France 2019.
Indeed, she is delighted to see the spotlight fall instead on young stars like Nichelle Prince, who claimed a goal and assist in the win over New Zealand. Prince also spoke ahead of the Dutch showdown, saying: “We feel confident that we can use our momentum from these past two games and get a win.”
Only time will tell whether that confidence is justified. But if Canada can beat the European champions and advance as group winners, they will have every right to begin dreaming a little bigger.