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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 sights 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-place teams in the overall standings, 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 et Gabrielle Carle.
Midfielder : Jessie Fleming, Julia Grosso, Quinn, Désirée Scott and Sophie Schmidt.
Forward: Janine Beckie, Adriana Leon, Nichelle Prince, Deanne Rose, Christine Sinclair, Evelyne Viens et 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:
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