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  • Friday, June 23, 2000

    Canadian women to show off potent attack

     TORONTO (CP) -- Canada will showcase a new-look strike force today at the inaugural women's soccer Gold Cup as veteran Charmaine Hooper hooks up with teenage sensation Christine Sinclair.

     Coach Even Pellerud, who plays a 4-3-3 formation, will insert either Silvana Burtini or Christine Latham as the third attacker.

     Canada opens the eight-team tournament this afternoon against Mexico in Foxboro, Mass., before moving to Hershey, Pa., to play China on Monday (CTV Sportsnet, 8 p.m. EDT) and then Louisville, Ky., to take on Guatemala on Wednesday (CTV Sportsnet, 5:30 p.m. EDT).

     The tournament opened play Friday in Group A with Brazil playing Costa Rica and the host Americans tackling Trinidad and Tobago.

     Hooper, 32, is making her first appearance in Pellerud's squad after a lengthy absence because of stress fractures in her legs. She is Canada's leading scorer with 36 goals in 61 games.

     Sinclair, who turned 17 earlier this month, has scored nine goals in just 11 games and already stands fourth in national team scoring.

     Pellerud says he likes what he has seen from Hooper so far.

     "She seems to strengthen the team," the Norwegian native said Friday on the way to practice.

     The Canadian women are 7-4 under Pellerud and are riding a three-game win streak during which they have outscored their opposition 9-3. A win over China at the recent Pacific Cup turned heads, especially since the Chinese had just beaten the U.S. 1-0.

     "Canada are much more organized than they ever were before," said U.S. coach April Heinrichs, whose club beat Canada 9-1 at the Pacific Cup. "Their spirit and fight are much greater than ever before.

     "You can see a good coach immediately in terms of organization and spirit of player and I believe that hiring their new coach has been helpful ... They're going to be a great CONCACAF opponent."

     Pellerud knows his team is getting a closer look these days.

     "We have obtained more respect now."

     He also knows that the Chinese will be looking for revenge after losing 5-2 on penalties after the Pacific Cup game finished tied 2-2. It was Canada's first win over China in eight games.

     "I know that game and result upset the Chinese people and the Chinese staff a lot."

     Canada played both Guatemala and Mexico in Toronto in qualifying for the 1999 World Cup. The Canadians blanked Guatemala 8-0 before beating Mexico 1-0 in the final.

     Pellerud watched Mexico lose to the U.S. in the Nike Cup in Portland, Ore., in May.

     "I have a lot of respect for them. They have some very good players. I think that is the key game for us."

     Canada is 4-0 against Mexico and 1-0 against Guatemala.

     The two teams in each group after round-robin play advance to the semifinals.



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