Canada's Christine Sinclair exits Women's World Cup after loss to Australia, possibly for last time

Updated Jul. 31, 2023 12:09 p.m. ET

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — In what could have been Canada star Christine Sinclair’s last Women’s World Cup match, she and her Olympic champion teammates were k nocked out of contention by Australia 4-0 in a group-stage finale Monday.

“I’m obviously still processing it,” Canada coach Bev Priestman said after the match. “Even hearing you say, ‘Could this be Christine Sinclair’s last game?’ It breaks my heart.”

Sinclair, 40, the all-time leading goal scorer in international soccer, women or men, has played in six Women’s World Cups. Canada finished fourth in her tournament debut in 2003, its best finish to date.

“Things have to change,” Sinclair said. “We don’t have a professional league. We don’t have that pathway for players to make the national team. If this isn’t a wakeup call, I don’t know what is.”


Sinclair and her teammates have been fighting for equal pay and support from Canada Soccer.

Canada hasn’t advanced out of the group stage in five of its eight Women’s World Cup appearances. It is the first reigning Olympic champion to fail to reach the knockout round in the Women’s World Cup.

“From the ecstasy of two summers ago, winning gold, to losing tonight, as painful as it is, it’s part of sport,” Sinclair said. “You have to be able to accept the losses the same way you accept the wins.”

If Sinclair had scored a goal at this tournament, she would have become the first player, female or male, to score in six World Cups. That she didn’t underscores Canada’s struggles to generate offense against Australia and in its opening 0-0 draw with Nigeria.

Adriana Leon scored Canada’s only goal of the tournament in its 2-1 win over Ireland, with the other coming off an Irish own goal.

“We created some good chances in this tournament, we just weren’t clinical,” Canada's Sophie Schmidt said.

Canada took 11 shots against Australia, but only three were on target.

Meanwhile, Hayley Raso scored two goals in the first half, followed by two more for Australia from Mary Fowler and Steph Catley in the second half.

Canada also had to contend with a pro-Australia crowd at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

“With the home fans, we know they’d get momentum and energy from that,” Sinclair said.

Canada slid to third in Group B. Nigeria finished second after playing Ireland to a 0-0 draw on Monday and advanced to the round of 16 with group winner Australia.

“Hopefully looking back on it, in time, we created memories, we got young players their first World Cup experience that will go on and will lead Canada in the future,” Sinclair said.


Savannah Hernandez is a student at the University of Georgia’s Carmical Sports Media Institute.


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