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Veteran Christine Sinclair helps lead Canada to quarterfinal

Canada captain and veteran forward Christine Sinclair leads team into World Cup quarterfinal

Veteran Christine Sinclair helps lead Canada to quarterfinal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Christine Sinclair grabbed her water bottle and began spraying in triumph as the dejected Swiss walked off the field a few feet away.

Playing the Women's World Cup in her home province of British Columbia, Canada's captain let herself go to properly celebrate the moment with a country behind her.

Canada is on to the World Cup quarterfinal. just as this close-knit group expected. So what that the unassuming Sinclair has yet to score in the tournament?

"She's the pride of our country, and she's going to stay that," coach John Herdman emphatically declared during his postgame news conference. "And we should be proud of what that woman's putting in to this Women's World Cup for our team."

Sinclair's quick touch on a cross by Rhian Wilkinson set up Josee Belanger's decisive left-footed goal in the 52nd minute of Sunday's 1-0 victory against Switzerland.

"It's just being able to at the end of the game say you gave it everything you had and whatever happens happens," Sinclair said afterward. "Win it for the tremendous fans that came out."

Playing in her fourth World Cup and a member of the Canadian team since 2000, the 32-year-old Sinclair is doing exactly what Herdman had hoped she would do for Canada to find success.

"To bring other players to another level," he said. "At some point, Christine will do what we all expect Christine to do. At some point. She did it in China in front of 50,000 people, took a penalty that most human beings would walk away from."

Sinclair has 154 international goals, including a hat trick during the 4-3 Olympic semifinal loss to the United States in 2012, one of the best women's matches ever. Canada wound up with bronze.

Many of Canada's goals at the London Games were created off crosses, much like Sunday's score.

"You know that when Rhian's going to put the ball in the box, you've got to be there and got to expect it. It worked out," Sinclair said.

She has earned another match right at home when the eighth-ranked Canadians play in the quarterfinal next Saturday at BC Place. She was born and raised in nearby Burnaby.

Nobody has more appearances with the Canadian women's national team than Sinclair.

Sinclair led Canada to its best World Cup finish of fourth in 2003, and this group has aspirations of a championship. Facing the United States in BC Place on July 5 for a World Cup title would be about as perfect as anyone on the Canadian roster could hope for with another largely home crowd of 53,000 or more madly cheering the Canucks and waving the Maple Leaf.

Herdman will back Sinclair at every chance, and he doesn't much appreciate his leader being criticized for her performance on the big stage at home.

"Some people out there need to ask themselves a question," Herdman said. "That woman does not deserve to take stick. She's a world-class person, a world-class player. She gives everything to this team, every single game. Look, you put her in a different team she'll score 20 goals. But look around these goal scorers around this tournament. ... International football ain't easy, and Sinclair's given everything, every single game. Off the pitch, she's doing more than she's ever done before to keep this team connected."

Updated : 2021-05-14 19:34 GMT+08:00