Sinclair eyes all-time scoring mark as Canada opens play
PARIS (AP) — Christine Sinclair is already considered Canada's most decorated soccer player, and with four goals in this Women's World Cup she would become the sport's all-time international top scorer, too.
Sinclair heads into Canada's Group E opener against Cameroon in Montpellier with 181 goals, trailing only Abby Wambach, who scored 184 times in international competition for the United States.
Sinclair's first goal came 19 years ago in her debut for Canada's senior team at the 2000 Algarve Cup in Portugal. She scored three times during the tournament. The goals have been fast and furious since, and many were rather memorable for her national team.
Sinclair, who turns 36 on Wednesday, scored a hat trick against the United States in the semifinals of the 2012 London Olympics, and a winning penalty kick over China in the closing seconds of Canada's 2015 World Cup opener in Edmonton, Alberta. She scored in the 52nd minute to give Canada the bronze medal over Brazil at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The bronze in Rio was the second of Sinclair's career, and she's a 14-time recipient of Soccer Canada's Player of the Year award. She received the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's top athlete in 2012.
Canada is favored to advance from Group E, which also includes the Netherlands and New Zealand.
Cameroon, meanwhile, made its first World Cup appearance four years ago and advanced out of group stage before losing to China in the knockout rounds. The Indomitables Lionesses' are led by all-time scorer Madeleine Ngono Mani, who has scored 40 goals in her 17-year career with Cameroon.
Cameroon has a new coach, Alain Djeumfa, who was handed the national team in January and has been adamant his main goal is to get the team out of the group stage.
The team also has a new star in forward Gaëlle Enganamouit, who celebrated her 27th birthday a day before Cameroon faced Canada. Estelle Johnson, a defender, will make her international debut for Cameroon despite having an American father and a Malian mother. She was born north of Cameroon and pledged her allegiance to the country after Cameroon inspired Johnson during the World Cup four years ago.
In Monday's other action:
ARGENTINA vs. JAPAN: It has been 12 years since Argentina played on soccer's biggest stage, in part because its players went on strike for nearly two years in a dispute over pay and working conditions.
The team regrouped last season and played 2018 Copa America, finishing third and beating Panama in a CONCACAF-CONMEBOL playoff to advance on aggregate. Argentina is one of the tournament's lowest-ranked sides, lacks international experience, and opens against Japan — winners of the 2011 World Cup and runner-up in 2015 — in Group D play in Paris.
But Japan is in transition and features a flurry of young players. The team averages three years younger than the 2015 team at an average age of 24.
Japan is expecting a breakout from 22-year-old Yui Hasegawa, who has played in two U-17 World Cups and has more than 100 appearances for Japanese club team Nippon TV Beleza.
RECAPPING SUNDAY: Ellen White curled in a shot to give England a 2-1 victory against tournament newcomer Scotland. The game was played in Nice with an announced attendance of 13,188 in a stadium that was about one-third full. ... Italy upset Australia 2-1 behind a pair of goals from Barbara Bonansea, who got the winner in stoppage time. The Juventus player also had the equalizer in the 56th minute for the 15th-ranked Italians, who are making their first appearance in the World Cup since 1999. ... Cristiane scored all three goals as Brazil spoiled Jamaica's first Women's World Cup match with a 3-0 victory. Cristiane became the oldest player to score a hat trick in World Cup play at 34 years, 25 days. Cristiano Ronaldo held the previous mark at 33 years, 131 days.