Christine Sinclair’s goal ended the Germans enviable World Cup record
The German women’s team looked like it was coasting to a win led by an exciting new generation of multi-ethnic players just like their male counterparts. The names of Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi and Fatmire Bajramaj will no doubt become familiar to thousands as the World Cup goes on.
The match adhered to script as the lanky Kristen Garefekes took advantage of a terrible mix up that left Canadian goalie Erin McLeod stranded in no woman’s land to head home the first goal in the 10th minute. They doubled the lead as Mbabi raced ahead beating the offside trap and finished coolly to send Germany into halftime salivating at the prospects of a blowout.
Coach Silvia Nied had not even trotted out her shiny new toys in Alexandra Popp and Bajmarj. Birgit Prinz already a legend had a laboured first half and was subbed off to a standing ovation. Meanwhile Canada was left to rue a 6th minute Christine Sinclair miss that would have narrowed the gap.
Popp came on in the second half and served notice that she is Prinz’s heir apparent and minutes later the stadium erupted to the arrival of Bajmarj, a refugee by the way of Kosovo who battled her father’s ambitions for her as a ballet dancer to don soccer cleats. With prolific goalscorer Inka Grings also in the midst, it felt natural to wonder how many more goals would Canada bleed?
Germany came close but were not able to add to the tally with Garefekes the goal at her mercy missing a point blank chance. At the other end the outclassed Canadians looked for a sign, any sign for a chance to turn things around. That opportunity presented itself when Simone Laudehr fouled Sophie Schmidt just outside Germany’s box. This was a golden moment for Sinclair to step up and the Canadian captain a picture of intense concentration pulled of a Beckhamesque free kick. It was a great piece of skill which left Nadine Angerer at goal with no chance. This was the first goal conceded by Germany in a World Cup since the 2003 finals against Sweden. Game on and Germany were looking a bit ragged.
The crowd was on edge and referee Jacqui Melksham came for some protracted booing for giving the Canadians the benefit of the doubt on a couple of tackles. The Canadians went short on a corner pulling Sinclair and Matheson to the right as they recycled the ball and then sent it long for Emily Zurrer to almost pull of a miraculous equalizer.
Germany get their three points but the enterprising Canadians made it interesting and with goal differential a potential factor in the group stage this goal could be huge. The more salient question is when are they going to riot? And do we get another couple for love in the time of cholera.