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Messi can make it record four

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GENEVA -- Lionel Messi can break another footballing record on Monday by being named the world's best player for an unprecedented fourth time.

The Barcelona and Argentina forward, who scored 91 goals in 2012, is the favourite to win the FIFA Ballon d'Or prize ahead of club teammate Andres Iniesta and his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid, who complete the three-man shortlist in Zurich.

A fourth straight title would lift Messi above three-time FIFA World Player of the Year winners Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo of Brazil. Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten each won the original Ballon d'Or three times when only European players were eligible.

Iniesta starred as Spain won the European Championship for its third straight major tournament title.

Ronaldo's goals helped Madrid take Barcelona's Spanish league title.

Canada sans Sinclair for Four Nations Cup

TORONTO -- Canada's women's soccer team will soon find out of it can score without Christine Sinclair.

Canada's captain and star striker will have to sit out the upcoming Four Nations Cup in China as she serves the first three games of a four-game suspension.

FIFA punished her for an incident following Canada's heartbreaking semifinal loss to the U.S. at the London Olympics.

Sinclair's absence will certainly be felt. She scored a Canadian-record 23 goals in 2012, including six at the Olympics, and won a host of awards including the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as The Canadian Press female athlete of the year.

Coach John Herdman included Sinclair on Canada's Four Nations roster released Friday and she is expected to travel to China with the team even though she won't be able to suit up for a game.

Fellow veteran forward Melissa Tancredi is not on the Four Nations roster, so Herdman will be looking for some young players to step up on offence.

Forwards Tiffany Cameron, Adriana Leon and Nichelle Prince will be making their debuts with Canada's senior team.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 5, 2013 C5

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