Can Canada’s women’s soccer team bring home medals in three consecutive Olympics? Can they change the colour of the medal this time?
Those are just some of the more pertinent questions ahead of the women’s soccer tournament at the Tokyo Olympics set to kick off next week.
Led by iconic captain Christine Sinclair, Canada is coming off back-to-back bronze medals, and a third consecutive third-place finish would be an unprecedented achievement. But newly installed coach Bev Priestman has set her sights much higher.
“A team like Canada should be on that podium. I do think we need to change the colour of the medal.… To keep moving forward, we have 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 field has been divided into three round-robin groups, and the first round runs from July 21 to July 27.
The three groups are:
Group E: Japan, Canada, Chile and Great Britain.
Group F: China, Brazil, the Netherlands and Zambia.
Group G: Sweden, United States, Australia and New Zealand.
The top two teams in each group, plus the two best third-place sides overall, advance to the quarter-finals, which begin on July 30. From there, it’s a single elimination format right up until the bronze medal match (Aug. 5) and the final (Aug. 6).
What does Canada’s roster look like?
Here is coach Bev Priestman’s 22-player squad. Only 18 players can dress for games.
Goalkeepers: Stephanie Labbé, Kailen Sheridan and Erin McLeod.
Defenders: Kadeisha Buchanan, Vanessa Gilles, Shelina Zadorsky, Allysha Chapman, Ashley Lawrence, Jayde Riviere and Gabrielle Carle.
Midfielders: Jessie Fleming, Julia Grosso, Quinn, Desiree Scott and Sophie Schmidt.
Forwards: Janine Beckie, Adriana Leon, Nichelle Prince, Deanne Rose, Christine Sinclair, Evelyne Viens and Jordyn Huitema.
Captain Sinclair (299 caps) is the most experienced member on Canada’s Olympic team, and one of five players who’s 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 Riviere (21).
In total, 12 players on this Canadian squad were part of the team that won back-to-back bronze medals in 2012 and 2016, and there are 15 returning players from the 2019 FIFA World Cup team.
The most notable absence on Canada’s roster is veteran midfielder Diana Matheson who, at age 37, recently announced her retirement due to injury problems the past few years. She earned 206 caps and was a key member of the Canadian team that won back-to-back bronze medals. Matheson also scored the winning goal against France in the third-place game at the 2012 Olympics in London.