Canadian women go winless at World Cup

A third loss and a power outage extended Canada's misery at the FIFA Women's World Cup.
Canada's Christine Sinclair, right, kicks the ball past Nigerian goalkeeper Precious Dede but couldn’t score during Group A action Tuesday in Dresden, Germany. (Jens Meyer/Associated Press)

A third loss and a power outage extended Canada's misery at the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Perpetua Nkwocha scored to give Nigeria a 1-0 victory over winless Canada on Tuesday in a game marked by a 13-minute power outage.

Nkwocha scored in the 84th minute, just a minute after play resumed, pouncing on a deflection to launch a shot past veteran Canadian 'keeper Karina LeBlanc.

Both teams head home after failing to survive the first round.

"I thought we showed a lot more fight this game, but we still didn't get the bounces, unfortunately," said Canadian midfielder Diana Matheson.

The loss to 27th-ranked Nigeria, was the final big blow for a sixth-ranked Canadian team that came into the World Cup with such huge hopes, boasting a CONCACAF title and the team's highest ever ranking.

But the tournament unfolded nothing like the Canadians imagined, starting with a 2-1 loss to Germany, and then a 4-0 blowout by seventh-ranked France, the game that would mark Canada's official demise.

"I think at this point we all just need to take ourselves away from soccer, take our month rest to refocus, physically refocus, and kind of start to love the game again," said Canadian midfielder Kaylyn Kyle.

"We didn't come here wanting to lose all three games obviously, we had high hopes of doing well and obviously something didn't work right, and our coaches are going to go back and look at things and us as players are going to take some time mentally and go back and look at things as well as to what we can improve on."

Tuesday's game was halted by a power outage in the 73rd minute — a fitting turn of events for a Canadian team that had three shots on target all tournament.

Both teams had scoring chances in front of a crowd of 13,638.

Canada's captain Christine Sinclair, wearing a face mask to protect the broken nose she suffered against Germany, had several excellent chances, her first coming in the 32nd minute when she snuck through Nigeria's back line and beat 'keeper Precious Dede before running out of room.

In the 55th minute, Sinclair one-timed a shot off a corner from Diana Matheson that Dede dove to save, and she had another shot in the 93rd that Dede scooped up.

Melissa Tancredi also banged a header off the post in the 23rd minute.

"Obviously the results have been disappointing and not what we had hoped for and wanted and expected," said Sinclair. "But at the same time, as a women's football player and to look at this tournament, how well it's been put on, the fans, the awareness, it's been incredible to be a part of it.

"Obviously I would have liked to be part of it a little longer but it's a starting point for us and we can just improve."

The Canadians had more success playing the style they'd hoped to display at this tournament, passing and moving with relative ease against a young Nigerian side that included eight players from the squad that made the U-20 World Cup final last year. But at other times, they looked scattered and disorganized, ultimately forcing them to cough up the goal.

Nigeria also had numerous chances, putting LeBlanc to work early when Desire Oparanozie beat Canada's defence to fire a shot point-blank at the 31-year-old 'keeper. In the 43rd, Stella Mbachu blew by Canada's left back Marie-Eve Nault to get a cross off to Perpetua Nkwocha, who fired a shot off the post.

LeBlanc started in net for Canada in her first appearance in this World Cup, but perhaps last in World Cup competition. LeBlanc, who made a Canadian-record fourth World Cup appearance, said she'll decide on her playing future following the 2012 London Olympics.

The Nigerians lost 1-0 to both Germany and France.

The Canadians have advanced out of the group stage just once in their five appearances, finishing fourth in 2003.

The crowd at the 25,987-seat stadium, normally home to third division club Dynamo Dresden, was dotted with several dozen Canadian fans, including a girl's soccer team from Weyburn, Sask. The small group of Nigerian fans also made their presence felt.

"I don't think we need to panic," Matheson said of Canada's program.

"We can learn from it," she added. "It's such a little difference between winning and losing. In 2003 when we came fourth we barely made it out of our group, we struggled in the first two games. If we got a bounce early, I think it would have been a different tournament, but unfortunately we didn't. "