Christine Sinclair ready to make 2013 debut for Canada
Star player was suspended by FIFA
Canadian captain Christine Sinclair says she hopes she's still fit as she prepares for her return to team action Friday at an international soccer match in Cyprus.
It was said with a laugh, now that she has completed her four-game suspension for a post-match incident after a semifinal loss to the United States at the London Olympics.
"It's obviously exciting to get back in," she said Thursday from the Cypriot capital Nicosia, where Canada is competing in the Cyprus Women's Cup. "It's been a while since I've played a full 90-minute international game. The last time I suited up we won a bronze medal."
Sinclair hasn't played since Canada's third-place showing at the Olympics. She was highly critical of the refereeing during in 4-3 extra-time semifinal loss to the U.S., and once the tournament was over she was suspended by FIFA for "displaying unsporting behaviour towards match officials."
"Missing a couple of games in like January and February has been no big deal," she said.
She sat out the Yongchuan Cup in China, where Canada finished second behind Norway, needing to ride the bench for only one more game in Cyprus to end her exodus.
Finland, Dutch up next
Sinclair is expected to see action when Canada takes on Finland in its second match at the 2013 Cyprus Cup, but says the team has done well enough without her.
Sinclair finished her suspension as Canada opened with a 2-0 win over Switzerland. Canada will finish group play against the Netherlands on Monday.
The top team from Group A will then square-off against the top team in Group B in the Cyprus Cup final next Wednesday.
Canadian coach John Herdman has said fans should expect some growing pains as he integrates new players and a new style of play.
But Sinclair said she has been encouraged to see the way relative newcomers have stepped up — players like forward Adriana Leon and midfielder Christabel Oduro.
"They just have so much potential," she said. "I remember myself in my first half dozen games with the national team. It's intimidating. They've done very well. Hopefully I can come in and help them even more."
She said Canada must develop the same consistent level of play the U.S. women's team has displayed in all of their games to succeed.
"So we're not just hoping it's there on the big day," she said.