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Christine Sinclair set for 200th cap with Canada

Christine Sinclair will earn her 200th cap against Scotland in Brazil on Thursday. (Photo: Canada Soccer)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The greatest professional soccer player in Canadian history is set to earn her 200th cap Thursday when Canada takes on Scotland at the Torneio Internacional Cidade de Sao Paolo in Brasilia, Brazil. Christine Sinclair will walk onto the pitch at Estadio Nacional for the 200th time as she proudly represents Canada.

The entire team is thrilled and looking forward to this huge honor for Sinclair, but it’s clear that coach John Herdman has other things on his mind as he needed a reminder when he spoke to the media from Brazil.

“I think everyone’s excited,” he said. “We haven’t given it much attention at this point. I’m pleased you’ve reminded us because I think we almost forgot, we’ve been that focused on our work preparing for this first game against Scotland. For Sinclair, we’re just hoping she puts a goal in.”

Sinclair’s first cap with the Canada women’s national team came on March 12, 2000, at the Algarve Cup in Portugal during a 4-0 loss to China. It didn’t take long for Sinclair to score her first goal as she found the net in the very next match, a 2-1 defeat to Norway. Since that day, Sinclair hasn’t stopped scoring and she currently has 146 goals, which places her third all-time behind United States players Abby Wambach (162), and Mia Hamm (158).

[MORE: Jessie Fleming set for first senior Canada WNT cap at age 15]

In her finest moment in a Canadian kit, Sinclair almost single handily led her team to the gold medal match at the 2012 London Olympic Games. She scored a hat trick against a heavily favored Team USA in a crushing 4-3 loss. Christine put her team, and her country, on her back as they united sports enthusiasts across Canada with their fantastic play during the Olympic games. Canada would go on to defeat France 1-0 to win a bronze medal.

Sinclair would have liked to have earned her 200th cap in front of family and friends in Vancouver when Canada recently played Mexico to a scoreless draw on Nov. 24.

“It would have been nice to have had it here (Vancouver), and to maybe have had it in my home stadium but it will be tremendous. It’s just an honor to have represented Canada that many times.”

At 30 years old, it’s quite possible that Sinclair will have many more opportunities to earn a monumental cap in her hometown. John Herdman spoke about her longevity and how long he thinks she might be able to play.

“At 50 she’ll probably be in her prime,” Herdman said with a laugh. “I think she’d be in goal by then I’d imagine. I’m hoping she’ll play forever and there will come a time where she has to hang up her boots and probably be a great coach. She’ll be fantastic in 2015, and 2016 and I can still see her around in 2020.”

You can really see all the love and support Sinclair’s teammates have for her when they speak about the person she is on and off the pitch. Emily Zurrer is often tasked with stopping Sinclair during scrimmages, and she couldn’t be more happy for her teammate.

“Christine is amazing, I can’t say enough about her as an athlete and as a person. She’s an inspiration to the country, and an inspiration to our team. Two hundred caps just seems mind-boggling to me, the fact that she’s played that many times for our country, but honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if she got 100 more.”

Zurrer believes the best is still to come from Canada’s most prolific goalscorer.

“I feel like she’s just hitting her peak now. She’s probably a better player now than she was five years ago, which is saying a lot about her as an athlete and as a person. Some people when they get older they slow down and I feel like Sincy’s just getting faster. She’s amazing and we’re all so proud of her.”

The CSA doesn’t sound like they have much of planned to honor Sinclair while the team is in Brazil this month. Reached via email, this statement was provided:

“We will have some pieces on CanadaSoccer.com to highlight her achievement, but no official celebration is organized at this time. It is more likely that we would keep that for the first home match in 2014.”

The next home game for Canada has not yet been announced, but Canadian Soccer Association general secretary Peter Montopoli expects some match information to be released next month.

Zurrer is convinced something will be in the works to honor Christine Sinclair, and it’s unfortunate her 200th cap could not be played in Vancouver.

“I think it would have been nice if she could have played her 200th in Vancouver, but unfortunately it didn’t workout that way. I definitely think there will be something in store for her when she gets her 200th cap.”

It’s lovely to look on the past but the future is what’s most important for Sinclair, and Team Canada. No. 12 still has plenty of work to do as she prepares to lead Canada into the 2015 FIFA World Cup on home soil, and that starts Thursday when Canada plays Scotland. Herdman would like to see more from his star striker.

“Christine’s obviously going to use this tournament to extend that goal tally and I hope she does. She’s had a bit of a quiet year with the team and I think there’s a lot of reasons for that. She’s, at times, been isolated and easily managed by the opposition when you don’t have other goal threats around her like Tancredi, Belanger, Foligno. So I think for Christine, I think she’s got to learn how to play when those players aren’t here. She’s working on a couple of things going into this tournament so she can celebrate her 200th cap with a goal.”

Canada vs. Scotland will kickoff today from Brasilia at 4:30 p.m. ET.

NOTES: Canada Soccer will announce the 2013 Female Player of the Year on Friday, Dec. 13. Christine Sinclair has won this award 10 times previously and will win her ninth in a row if she wins the 2013 award.

Here’s what Sinclair told CanadaSoccer.com regarding her 200th cap:

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