Canadian women’s soccer targets third consecutive Olympic medal at Tokyo Games
Can Canada’s women’s soccer team win home medals at three back-to-back Olympics? Can they change the color of the medal this time around?
These are just a few of the most relevant questions ahead of the Tokyo Olympics women’s soccer tournament which kicks off next week.
Led by iconic captain Christine Sinclair, Canada has just won back-to-back bronze medals, and a third straight third would be an unprecedented feat. But newly installed coach Bev Priestman has set his goals much higher.
“A team like Canada should be on this podium. I think we need to change the color of the medal… To keep moving forward, we need to aim higher than that, ”Priestman said.
Here’s what you need to know about the women’s soccer tournament at the Tokyo Olympics.
How does the tournament work?
The 12-nation peloton has been divided into three round robin groups, and the first round will run July 21-27.
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The three groups are:
- Group E: Japan, Canada, Chile and Great Britain.
- Group F: China, Brazil, Netherlands and Zambia.
- Group G: Sweden, United States, Australia and New Zealand.
The top two teams from each group, as well as the top two third-placed teams overall, advance to the quarter-finals, which begin on July 30. From there, it’s a knockout format until the bronze medal game (August 5) and the final (August 6).
What does Canada’s list look like?
Meet Coach Bev Priestman’s 22-player squad. Only 18 players can dress for matches.
Goalkeepers: Stéphanie Labbé, Kailen Sheridan and Erin McLeod.
Defenders: Kadeisha Buchanan, Vanessa Gilles, Shelina Zadorsky, Allysha Chapman, Ashley Lawrence, Jayde Rivière and Gabrielle Carle.
Midfielder : Jessie Fleming, Julia Grosso, Quinn, Desiree Scott and Sophie Schmidt.
Forward: Janine Beckie, Adriana Leon, Nichelle Prince, Deanne Rose, Christine Sinclair, Evelyne Viens and Jordyn Huitema.
Captain Sinclair (299 caps) is the most experienced member of Canada’s Olympic team and one of five players to have made more than 100 international appearances. The others are Schmidt (205), Scott (162), McLeod (116) and Buchanan (103).
At the other end of the spectrum are Viens (seven), Gilles (eight), Sheridan (10) and Rivière (21).
A total of 12 players from this Canadian squad were part of the squad that won back-to-back bronze medals in 2012 and 2016, and there are 15 returning players from the 2019 FIFA World Cup squad.
The most notable absence from Canada’s roster is veteran midfielder Diana Matheson who, at 37, recently announced her retirement due to injury issues in recent years. She won 206 caps and was a key member of the Canadian team that won back-to-back bronze medals. Matheson also scored the game-winning goal against France in the third-place match at the London 2012 Olympics.
WATCH | Christine Sinclair’s epic performance at the 2012 Olympics:
How difficult is the Canada group?
Ranked No.8 in the current FIFA World Rankings, Canada will start the match at the Tokyo Games on July 21 against No.10 Japan and face No.37 Chile on July 24. Both matches will take place in Sapporo.
The Canadian team will then meet Great Britain on July 27 in Kashima. FIFA does not rank Great Britain, but their squad will be made up mostly of England’s No.6 players, as well as some Scotland’s No.23, Wales No.34 and Ireland’s No.48. North.
The opening game is tough for Coach Priestman’s side as they will face the hosts. The Japanese are 7-4-3 against the Canadians, including a 2-1 victory in the group stage of the London 2012 Games en route to the silver medal. In addition, Japan won a 4-0 victory on October 6, 2019 in their previous meeting, inflicting on Canada their heaviest loss in seven years.
Two years after playing their first Women’s World Cup, Chile will make their Olympic debut in Tokyo. The South Americans are led by Christiane Endler, who is considered one of the best goalies in the world. Chile beat Canada 1-0 at the 2013 Torneio Internacional de Futebol Feminino, the only previous meeting between the countries. But that was a long time ago, and Canada is generally expected to easily eliminate the Chileans.
The first round final against Great Britain will likely decide where Canada finishes in Group E and determine its path to the medal podium. The British squad is mainly made up of English players and will be coached by English interim manager Hege Riise.
England beat host Canada in the 2015 Women’s World Cup quarter-finals and reached the semi-finals of the 2019 tournament. But the Lionesses have fallen in the past two years and have only taken two wins in the tournament. of their last six matches. The all-time series between Canada and England is tied, with seven wins each in 14 appearances since they first met at the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Sweden.
Who are the tournament favorites?
The United States are the No. 1 ranked team in the world, with Germany and France (ranked No. 2 and 3 respectively) failing to qualify for the Olympics, the Americans should be considered as favorites. The United States is also looking to become the first team in history to win the World Cup and an Olympic gold medal back-to-back.
But even though the two-time defending World Cup champions are currently running a 44-game unbeaten streak in an international match, they have a point to prove in Tokyo after being thwarted by Sweden in the quarter-finals of the Rio 2016 Games. and failing to win a medal. The United States is in the same group as Sweden this time around, and they haven’t forgotten what happened five years ago.
Ranked No.4, the Netherlands have made great strides over the past decade, qualifying for the World Cup for the first time at the 2015 tournament in Canada. They went on to win the European Championship two years later and finished second at the 2019 World Cup in France. Now they are set to mark their Olympic debut with a deep run in Tokyo.
Sweden (No.5) and Brazil (No.7) both have well-filled squads of female players plying their trade with some of the best clubs in Europe and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). Both countries are eager to finally win a gold medal – especially the Swedes who settled for a silver medal five years ago in Rio.
Who are the best players to watch?
England defender Lucy Bronze is reigning FIFA Player of the Year and has just enjoyed a sensational club season, in which she helped Manchester City finish second in England’s FA Women’s Super League and reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
Brazilian Marta Vieira da Silva, who only goes through Marta, is a true legend of the game. She has been named FIFA Player of the Year six times and has scored more than 100 goals for her country. But she has never won an Olympic gold medal, and at 35, this could be her last chance.
Dutch striker Vivianne Miedema is a goal scoring machine. The 24-year-old Arsenal star is her country’s all-time top scorer with 73 goals in 96 appearances, and she is a ruthless finisher.
Rose Lavelle is an exquisite two-way midfielder who can pull the strings of creativity for the United States, while her teammate and veteran striker Alex Morgan is a dangerous scorer who will lead the Americans’ attacking charge.