Canada women nearly repeat as Algarve Cup champion
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Canada (pictured) gathers for a team photo prior to a Algarve Cup match against Russia on March 3, 2017, in São João da Venda, Portugal. (Photo courtesy of Canada Soccer)

SAO JOAO DA VENDA, Portugal – The Canada women’s national team may not have repeated as Algarve Cup champion this year, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

On Wednesday, the CONCACAF power fell 1-0 to Spain in the 2017 final as Leila Ouahabi struck for the only goal in the fifth minute at the Estadio Algarve.

“I think Canada should have won the game on the chances that we had, but we haven’t been as clinical as we should be in this tournament,” Canada head coach John Herdman said. “I can’t really fault our team on this one. Our girls gave one hell of an effort in the second half trying to pull it back, it’s just that some games are like that. You can throw everything at it, but it won’t go in.”

In order to qualify for the decider, Canada captured the top spot in Group A with a 2W-1D-0L record, scoring three goals and conceding only two. The lone blemish came in a scoreless draw against last-place Portugal in the last group match.

Against Spain, Canada created numerous scoring opportunities, but couldn’t connect.

In the first half, a Nichelle Prince effort was denied by outstretched goalkeeper Sandra Paños. The Spain custodian was even more impressive after the break thwarting Shelina Zadorsky (61’), Christine Sinclair (74’) and Janine Beckie on the last play.

“In the second half, we found our rhythm and established better control in the game, had a couple of good chances that should have gone in, and I have to think some of those players will be a bit disappointed with the opportunities lost,” finished Herdman, who is already looking forward to returning to Portugal. “We’ll take away some learnings from these last two games, but at the same time it was a strong performance from Canada, and next year we’ll be back.”

Canada next goes on the road against Sweden (April 6) and Germany (April 8), before coming home for a two-game series against Costa Rica on June 8 in Winnipeg and June 11 in Toronto.

CANADA – 2017 ALGARVE CUP

Results & Goals

Group A
March 1: 1-0 win v Denmark (Christine Sinclair 90’)
March 3: 2-1 win v Russia (Sophie Schmidt 10’; Christine Sinclair 26’)
March 6: 0-0 draw v Portugal

Final
March 8: 0-1 loss v Spain