The start of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is one week away and Team Canada has their eyes on the prize.
The tournament is being jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand and is scheduled to take place from July 20 to August 20. The Canadian squad is looking for a bit of redemption after being knocked out in the Round of 16 during the 2019 World Cup.
Leading the pack is none other than Christine Sinclair. The 40-year-old veteran will compete in her sixth Women’s World Cup as she leads a 23-player Canada squad that is eager to build on their breakthrough Gold Medal win during the Summer Olympics held in 2021. That run included an upset victory over the top-ranked Team USA squad in the semifinals.
Sinclair is already a Canadian soccer great. However, the title of ‘World Cup Champion’ still eludes her. Could this be her final shot at the Women’s World Cup trophy?
Can Sinclair ride off into the sunset with a World Cup victory?
Last month, the best player in the history of Canadian women’s soccer turned 40. Many believe this will be the last hurrah for Sinclair in her quest for World Cup glory.
Rumours of her potential retirement have been swirling ever since she and the rest of the Canadian squad won the Gold in 2021. However, the talk has picked up after US Soccer legend Megan Rapinoe announced she will retire following this upcoming World Cup.
Sinclair has not yet made any official declaration that she plans on retiring after the tournament. She was asked about retirement during an interview with Maclean’s, after she mentioned NFL legend Tom Brady in her memoir, “Playing the Long Game.”
“For me, it’s all about enjoyment. Can you stay healthy? Because it’s no fun if you’re not healthy,” Sinclair said in the interview. “And are you still enjoying it? Are you still waking up every day knowing this is what you want to do?”
When asked if she would retire and then unretire as Brady did, Sinclair shut that idea down quickly.
“I’m definitely not gonna Tom Brady it. When I’m done, I’m done,” said Sinclair.
Sinclair is the benchmark of women’s international soccer. She holds the international goal-scoring record with 190 goals. With over 320 appearances for Team Canada, Sinclair is second on the list of most international appearances for a player of all time, behind the former US women’s national team star Kristine Lilly (354).
Sinclair has been to the World Cup a record number of four times as a captain. She also previously held the record for most goals in a single Olympic women’s soccer tournament. She scored six goals in London in 2012. However, that record was broken by Vivianne Miedema at the Toyko Olympics in 2021.
The legendary Canadian, who has been nominated for FIFA World Player of the Year on eight occasions, has yet to lift the biggest prize in the game. If she chooses, she has the chance to go out on top. However, she will need a lot of help to get the job done.
Canada’s 2023 Women’s World Cup Odds
This may come as a shock, but soccer was the second most bet on sport during the first year of legal sports betting in Ontario. Some 15% of bets were on soccer, trailing only basketball. That is partly due to the intrigue surrounding the 2022 Men’s World Cup.
Heading into the Women’s tournament, the Canadians are not among the favourites. That is despite Sinclair joining a squad that includes three-time Canadian Player of the Year Kadeisha Buchanan. Team Canada also stars Jessie Fleming, who was named Canada’s top player in 2021 and 2022.
Most Canada sports betting sites have the Canadian women on the bottom end of the top ten to win it all. That is partly due to the competition they will face in their Group. Canada is being matched up with World Cup co-host Australia in Group B. The Group also includes the Republic of Ireland and Nigeria. The sportsbooks are giving a slight edge to Australia heading into the tournament.
I believe the sportsbooks are giving Australia the hometown discount. According to FIFA’s Women’s rankings, Canada is ranked 7th, while Australia is ranked 10th. There will undoubtedly be a ton of fan support for Australia when these two teams square off. However, the Canadians have the recent experience of winning the Gold Medal and have been battle-tested over the years.
If you look at the two squads, it is hard to say Australia definitively has the edge over Canada. So taking Canada at plus-odds to win Group B doesn’t seem like a bad bet.
However, getting into the Round of 16 is just one difficult hurdle for Team Canada to clear. Teams like the two-time defending champions USA, England, Spain and Germany are all standing in Canada’s way.