No one has been able to keep Canadian striker extraordinaire Christine Sinclair from scoring. With ten goals in four matches at the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship, the striker has proven herself the most dangerous, precise and clinical finisher at the women's youth level. And as she has already pulled over 30 caps and scored a slew with Canada's senior squad, the future is looking even brighter for the 19-year-old with the golden boot.
Though starting "slowly" with only one goal in an uncomfortable opening Group A victory over Northern European powers Denmark, the clinical finisher scored two in both of the hosts' next two group stage matches, and topped off a spectacular performance with an outrageous, unheard-of five goals against England in a 6:2 win in Edmonton.
Prior to the tournament, ex-international and Team Canada head coach Ian Bridge was quick to heap praise and accolades on the 19-year-old wonder striker from Burnaby B.C. sending some words of warning to the waiting opposition. "She's an excellent finisher," commented Bridge. "If she has a chance in front of goal or from a breakaway she will score…She's fast, strong, scores goals with both feet and is strong in the air." The inaugural FIFA event is Sinclair's first competitive go-around at the U-19 level, but with 25 goals in just 34 appearances for the seniors, Bridge wasn't exactly worried.
"All our teams play exactly the same tactics, so there is no adjustment to be made when players go from one age group to another. Also, Christine is used to playing with a number of the girls who she is now joining in the U-19 squad."
After picking up a slight knock in the opener with Denmark, Sinclair has proven herself far-and-away the tournament's top scoring touch with precision, size, speed and vision all on her side.
The competition has been gasping a little deeper with each increasingly impressive performance from the big number 12 from the Great White North.
After the critical quarter-final clash from Commonwealth Stadium, England boss Mo Marley was quick to admit her initial tactics revolved around eliminating (or minimizing) the sizable threat posed by Canada's top markswoman.
"We went in looking to screen Christine Sinclair from the danger zones, but every time it seemed she found a way to battle through our efforts at containment," remarked the experienced England manager. Beaming boss Bridge too had some words of praise for his striker supreme following the decisive clash, setting up an intriguing meeting with lusty South American samba masters Brazil.
"This was a typical Sinclair performance, when she gets chances, more likely than not, she will bury them," commented Bridge, adding "To boot, she is the complete team player. All teams try to mark her out of the match but she normally finds a way to fight through."
Sinclair herself displayed a remarkable degree of humility following her fabulous five-goal fricasseeing of England, saying, "It was an excellent game, just one of those games when every chance I got went in," adding, "It was just one of those days and I'm absolutely thrilled to be heading into the semi-final to take on Brazil."
Coach Bridge seems sure the South American side the hosts will tangle with on Thursday in Edmonton will barely resemble the side they beat just two weeks ago in Calgary.
"I'm sure we will meet a much different side, Brazil is a very strong squad."
Strong or not, the hosts surely have an ace in the hole as prolific, uncontainable tournament top scorer Christine Sinclair only seems to be improving with each passing match.
|** Top goalscorers**|
|SINCLAIR Christine (CAN, 12)|
|WILSON Kelly (USA, 16)|
|MARTA (BRA, 10)|
|O REILLY Heather (USA, 9)|
|TARPLEY Lindsay (USA, 15)|
|CRAWFORD Hayley (AUS, 14)|
|DANIELA (BRA, 5)|
|KELLY (BRA, 9)|
|LANG Kara (CAN, 15)|
|RASMUSSEN Johanna (DEN, 13)|
|WARD Katy (ENG, 9)|
|MITTAG Anja (GER, 9)|
|OHNO Shinobu (JPN, 9)|
|WORBIS Guadalupe (MEX, 9)|
|MAGGS Ellen (ENG, 10)|
|BRESONIK Linda (GER, 3)|
|OSBORNE Leslie (USA, 10)|
|plus 28 players with one goal each.|
|Includes 22 matches played through 25 August|