Following their 4-nil loss to co-hosts Australia at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium in their final group-stage game, the Canadian Women’s National Team has exited the tournament without making the knockout rounds. Finishing 3rd in their group with four points, one behind Nigeria, the dream of representing Concacaf in the Round of 16, and giving Christine Sinclair a proper sendoff has ended.
CanWNT World Cup Recap And Future Outlook
The CanWNT knew they had their work cut out for them when the tournament draw was made, but fans had hoped that with some luck they would be able to finish in the top half of the group. Besides Sinclair, the team possessed multiple stars such as starting goalkeeper Jailen Sheridan, but their star power and belief were not enough to make it out of this tough group in the biggest women’s soccer competition in the world.
Not All The Pieces Fell In Place For CanWNT
Nigeria – This was the game that cost the team their chance of advancing. Once the game finished just as it began; no goals for either side, players and coaches knew that it would be an uphill battle. A major influence on this game was the absence of midfield playmaker Jessie Fleming. Sinclair missed a penalty kick that would have given Canada the crucial three points and +1 goal differential, but without Fleming in the lineup, the team could not break through the resilient Nigerian defense. Some even worried that the statistical advantage in shots and possession but lack of goals would break the spirits of the team.
Ireland – The addition of Fleming back into the lineup, coupled with a little bit of luck, earned Canada a much-needed win against Ireland. Ireland opened the scoring with an olimpico goal off of a corner kick, but Canada stormed back to secure a win thanks to a late goal by Adriana Leon. A 2-1 win, coupled with Nigeria’s shocking win over Australia, was enough to see CanWNT top the group heading into their final game against Australia.
Australia – The Matildas humiliated Canada. It can be stated clearly enough; it was not expected, and it should not have happened. The return of Sinclair to the starting lineup, the constant presence of forward Jordyn Huitema and defender Ashley Lawrence led many to believe that Canada would get the win or draw they needed to advance out of the group. A win would have even guaranteed them first place and possibly gifted them a beatable opponent in the Round of 16. What transpired was nothing short of an all-world clinical performance by Australia, and a blundered stretch of missed opportunities by Canada. Australia was outshot 11-10 by CanWNT but had six shots on target to their three. Canada also had over 60 percent of the possession, but they failed to create or capitalize on any scoring opportunities. As hosts, the win was big for Australia to be able to advance, but with a -3 goal differential, the Canadians return home disappointed.
What Next For CanWNT?
The next set of games for the team will take place on September 18 and 26 against Jamaica. These two games are the final step of Group-Stage A qualifying for the Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup. Canada have secured many runner-up finishes to the USWNT in the past few years but with Jamaica’s strong performances in the World Cup, it is a question of concern over whether or not the deflated Canadian team can overcome the high-flying Jamaicans.
Notably, Sinclair could soon retire from the national team. While her scoring form has been dwindling in the recent past, her leadership and experience are irreplaceable. A new generation of leaders will have to step forward from the ashes of the team’s underwhelming World Cup performance. It could be Huitema or Lawrence, or maybe another as yet unmentioned name such as midfield stalwart Quinn. CanWNT will also have to find fresh talent to avoid having this World Cup’s failures hang over the camp.
One missed penalty might have been all the team needed to classify this World Cup as a success, but the beautiful game comes at you hard and fast, and sometimes it leaves you wishing you had one more chance to show the world your best.
Photo Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports, June 18, 2023.