Canada Soccer’s women’s national team will have just one objective on their mind when they kick off the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament: to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Only two nations from the region will meet that objective through the Concacaf semifinals on Feb. 7 in Carson, California. There will be no second chance.
Canada Soccer have announced their official 20-player squad ahead of the eight-nation Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship that opens for Canada on Jan. 29 in Edinburg, Texas. Canada Soccer’s women’s national team is currently in their final preparation camp in Texas until 27 January.
“The players and everyone around the team cannot wait to get this year started and this qualification going,” said Kenneth Heiner-Møller, Canada Soccer’s women’s national team head coach. “The biggest multi-sport event in the world is only a few months away and we want to deliver a massive performance at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Japan. First we need to qualify, so to do that, we need to focus on the next three weeks and the matches we must perform in to get there.”
Since reaching the Round of 16 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, Canada Soccer’s women’s national team have used the FIFA international windows to further assess its player pool and have feature 27 different players in four international matches played in Japan and China PR. While Canada were allowed to dress 23 players for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship roster size is 20.
Canada has qualified for the Olympic Games three times through the Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, defeating Mexico (2008, 2012) and Costa Rica (2016) in the semi-final to earn their Olympic berth. Canada reached the quarter-finals at Beijing 2008 before winning back-to-back bronze medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016. Canada earned the distinction of becoming the first Canadian team to win back-to-back medals at the Summer Olympic Games since 1908 as well as the first-ever Canadian women’s summer team to repeat on the podium.
Canada’s 20 players were all part of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 squad. In addition, sixteen players were part of the Rio 2016 bronze medal winning squad, while veterans Christine Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt, and Desiree Scott were also bronze medalists at London 2012.
Canada will once more be captained by Christine Sinclair who is Canada Soccer’s all-time record holder in goals scored (183) and international appearances (289), including 10 goals in 21 matches at five FIFA Women’s World Cups and 11 goals in 15 matches at three Olympic Football Tournaments. Sinclair is also just two goals back of surpassing the all-time international record of 184.
Other notable returning players include 2019 Canadian Player of the Year Ashley Lawrence and goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé. Lawrence led Canada in minutes played and assists in 2019 while Labbé tied the women’s national team record with eight clean sheets in a single year. Canada had a total of 10 clean sheets with five consecutive ones for the second most in program history.
Canada’s squad also features goalkeepers Kailen Sheridan and Sabrina D’Angelo; centre backs Kadeisha Buchanan, Shelina Zadorsky, and Rebecca Quinn; fullbacks Allysha Chapman and Jayde Riviere; midfielders Gabrielle Carle, Jessie Fleming, and Julia Grosso; and forwards Janine Beckie, Jordyn Huitema, Adriana Leon, Nichelle Prince, and Deanne Rose.
Of note, Leon and teenagers Huitema, Grosso, and Riviere will be making their debut at the Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
CANADA AT THE CONCACAF WOMEN’S OLYMPIC QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT
Canada will face St. Kitts and Nevis (Jan. 29), Jamaica (Feb. 1) and Mexico (Feb. 4) in Group B after which the top two-nations in the group will cross over to alternate Concacaf semifinals against the top-two nations in Group A. The two winners of those Concacaf semifinals on Friday, Feb. 7, will qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as well as advance to the Sunday, Feb. 9, Concacaf Final. Both the semifinals and final will be played in Carson, Calif.
OLYMPIC MEDAL WINNERS & CONCACAF CHAMPIONS
Canada are two-time Olympic bronze medal winners (2012 and 2016) and two-time Concacaf Champions (1998 and 2010). In all, Canada have participated in seven consecutive editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup (1995 to 2019) and three consecutive editions of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament (2008 to 2016). At Rio 2016, Canada Soccer’s women’s national team were the first Canadian Olympic team to win back-to-back medals at a summer Olympic Games in more than a century.
1- GK- Stephanie Labbé | USA / NC Courage
2- FB- Allysha Chapman | USA / Houston Dash
3- CB- Kadeisha Buchanan | FRA / FCF Olympique Lyonnais
4- CB- Shelina Zadorsky | USA / Orlando Pride
5- CB- Rebecca Quinn | USA / Reign FC
6- F- Deanne Rose | USA / University of Florida
7- M- Julia Grosso | USA / University of Texas at Austin
8- FB- Jayde Riviere | USA / University of Michigan
9- F- Jordyn Huitema | FRA / Paris Saint-Germain
10- FB- Ashley Lawrence | FRA / Paris Saint-Germain
11- M- Desiree Scott | USA / Utah Royals FC
12- F- Christine Sinclair | USA / Portland Thorns FC
13- M- Sophie Schmidt | USA / Houston Dash
14- M- Gabrielle Carle | USA / Florida State University
15- F- Nichelle Prince | USA / Houston Dash
16- F- Janine Beckie | ENG / Manchester City FC
17- M- Jessie Fleming | USA / UCLA
18- GK- Kailen Sheridan | USA / Sky Blue FC
19- F- Adriana Leon | ENG / West Ham United FC
20- GK- Sabrina D’Angelo | SWE / Vittsjö GIK