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Olympic gold celebration tour: Canada defeats Nigeria 2-0 in women’s soccer friendly

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Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe left the sector with tears in her eyes on Friday, waving to hundreds of soccer followers in Vancouver who stood and cheered as she formally closed out her soccer profession.

“It was emotional, it was thrilling, all of the feelings collectively. However what a second, to have the ability to try this in entrance of a Canadian crowd with all my family and friends there,” she stated.

“I really feel very lucky that I’ve had this chance. I do know not all gamers get this opportunity, so I really feel very lucky to rejoice this second with everybody that’s near me and the nation that’s supported me a lot.”

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Labbe didn’t concede a objective in 46 minutes of labor as Canada’s girls’s soccer staff blanked Nigeria 2-0 in a pleasant match at B.C. Place.

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Jessie Fleming opened the scoring within the 51st minute and Vanessa Gilles padded the house aspect’s lead with a objective within the 72nd.

Labbe was subbed off simply after the half, greeting fellow ‘keeper Kailen Sheridan on the sideline with a hug.

“I simply sort of stated ‘This staff’s yours. Take this staff by the reigns,’” she stated. “I’m going to be her largest fan in addition to Erin (McLeod) and Sabrina (D’Angelo) and every other ’keepers that come up by means of the system.

“It’s an thrilling time. It’s straightforward for me to step away realizing the staff’s in good fingers.”


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The Canadian girls are in B.C. as a part of a celebration tour recognizing the gold medal they gained on the Tokyo Olympics final summer season.

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The Video games have been a spotlight of Labbe’s profession, stated Canada’s head coach Bev Priestman.

“Everybody is aware of the contribution Steph had, notably, I’d say, on the top of her profession in the summertime. She’s gone out on prime, on her phrases,” she stated.

“It’ll be huge gaps by way of what Steph brings to the staff, not simply on the pitch however off the pitch.”

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Canada, ranked sixth on the planet, performed in purple jerseys with every participant’s identify and quantity emblazoned on the again in gold, a nod to their medal.

Nigeria sits at No. 39 on the planet rankings.


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The house aspect was sluggish to start out the sport, presumably as a result of there was a lot emotion concerned, Priestman stated.

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Play picked up within the second half and the coach thought her group had quite a few alternatives so as to add to the rating.

“We positively might have scored a number of extra targets,” she stated. “We appeared harmful going ahead and that’s a very powerful factor.”

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Canada went up 2-0 within the 72nd minute following a nook kick from Janine Beckie.

Jordyn Huitema bought a head on the ball, sending it into Gilles, who headed it in previous Nigerian ’keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie.

It was the Angel Metropolis FC defender’s third objective for Canada, coming in her 18th nationwide staff look.


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Sheridan made her largest cease of the evening within the 68th minute, diving to ship a blast from Oyedupe Payne simply vast of the publish.

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Deanne Rose arrange the primary objective of the sport, sending the ball to Fleming on the prime of the six-yard field within the 51st minute. The Chelsea midfielder took a sharp-angle shot that went excessive over the shoulder of goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi.

Oluehi was changed in internet by Nnadozie within the seventieth minute after showing to undergo an damage.

The objective was Fleming’s sixteenth for Canada, coming in her 99th nationwide staff look.

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The second half began with an emotional second as Sheridan got here in for Labbe.

The veteran ’keeper saluted the standing, cheering crowd — together with a complete part of her family and friends, lots of whom donned her jersey and trademark pink headband — earlier than hugging her substitute on the sideline.


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Tears ran down Labbe’s face as she hugged Priestman, together with the remainder of the Canadian coaching employees and her teammates on the sideline.

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The 35-year-old native of Stony Plain, Alta., introduced her retirement in January and has already performed her last skilled sport for Paris-Saint Germain.

The house aspect managed the vast majority of the motion throughout the primary half however Labbe was pressed into motion within the twenty eighth minute.

Rasheedat Ajibade broke by means of the Canadian defence and despatched a rocket flying from the highest of the field however Labbe dove to make a fingertip save and preserve the rating knotted at 0-0.

Canada had a major likelihood within the nineteenth minute when Beckie despatched a cross into Christine Sinclair within the field. The captain went for a header and despatched a shot into Oluehi’s midsection from simply exterior the six-yard field.

The 2 sides will meet once more for the second sport within the B.C. leg of the celebration tour Monday in Langford, B.C.


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The Canadians got here into Friday’s sport realizing that Nigeria would current a troublesome check, Priestman stated.

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“I feel they did themselves proud and it will likely be a tough sport, the following sport, little question,” she stated.

Nigeria’s head coach, Randy Waldrum, was impressed along with his aspect, particularly contemplating that a number of of the staff’s common starters weren’t capable of make it to Canada as a result of visa points.

“The women really feel proper now that they’ll play with anybody on the planet,” he stated. “However we’re additionally good sufficient to acknowledge that there’s some areas we have to enhance in earlier than we’re going to be in that elite class.”

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Sinclair was honoured in a pre-game ceremony for breaking the worldwide goal-scoring report when she recorded her 185th objective in January 2019.

The much-delayed celebration noticed a video of a few of Sinclair’s highlights proven on the large display earlier than the 38-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., and her two nieces took to the sector the place she obtained a commemorative print and a standing ovation from the hometown crowd.


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“The followers have been super,” Sinclair stated. “The vitality that they gave us, there’s no higher feeling than taking part in at dwelling.”

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Huge cheers crammed the stadium because the Canadians walked out on the sector earlier than kickoff. The gamers, with gold medals draped round their necks, clapped and waved for the cheering crowd earlier than being introduced with Olympic championship rings.

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Friday marked the primary time the Canadian and Nigerian girls’s groups had confronted one another since April 2019, when Canada took a 2-1 resolution in a pleasant in Spain.

Canada was taking part in its first sport at B.C. Place since November 2017 when the ladies’s squad battled the Individuals to a 1-1 draw.

NOTES: Two Nigerian gamers have been taken off the sector on stretchers. Ebi Onome left the sport within the 59th minute and Grace Kanu within the eightieth minute. … A ceremony was held post-game to rejoice Labbe. … All 22 gamers who gained gold for Canada in Tokyo are at the moment with the ladies’s staff, plus seven younger gamers Priestman hopes to include into upcoming lineups.

© 2022 The Canadian Press