Ottawa, June 24 (MNN) Christine Sinclair will lead Canada women’s 22-member football squad at the Tokyo Olympics starting next month.
Sinclair — Canada’s most capped player, male or female – is a leading scorer with 186 international goals.
She leads the team as goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, who was an alternate for Rio 2016, returns to the fold after treatment of an injury earlier this year.
“It is always an honour to represent Canada at the Olympic Games and I am excited to be returning to my fourth Olympics,” said Sinclair, who was the flag-bearer at the closing ceremonies at London 2012.
“I am looking forward to doing whatever I can to help take this team back to the podium and make history again. Our team is in a good spot, we are excited, we are hungry and we are ready to go.”
There will also be five Olympic debutants — Adriana Leon, Vanessa Gilles, Jayde Riviere, Julia Grosso and Evelyne Viens. The team is nevertheless not shy of big tournament experience with Riviere, Grosso and Leon members of the World Cup squad that made the last 16 in 2019.
Coach Bev Priestman has a packed 22-player squad full of talent to pick from: 15 of the players have 50 international caps, with 18 members playing their club football either in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in the US or across Europe.
Priestman, who was England’s assistant coach during Phil Neville’s tenure as head coach, selected players based on a strenuous six game Olympic schedule.
“For me, team selection was a question of picking the right blend of players across the pitch, so that we can progress through the six games at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament ready to win,” she said.
Unlike the World Cup where nations are allowed a 23-player squad, the Olympics reduce this number to just 18 players, making it even more important to have versatility amongst the squad.
For Canada, Janine Beckie has been named as a forward but also can play as an attacking midfielder; Ashley Lawrence and Quinn, can both shift from midfield to defence.
“I know these players will do everything in their power to make Canada proud. With hard work, the right mindset and a strong belief in our individual and collective ability, Canada can give any team a really difficult game and ultimately succeed in the Olympic Games,” Priestman added.
It will be Canada’s fourth consecutive Olympic Games in the women’s football tournament, having won bronze at the last two editions at London 2012 and Rio 2016 – the only team to achieve back-to-back podium finishes.
In the lead up to the Olympics, Canada has had a raft of matches and mixed results including victories over Wales and England before playing out scoreless draws against the Czech Republic and Brazil earlier this month.
Canada will kick-off their Olympic campaign against hosts Japan in Sapporo on July 21, before facing Chile (July 24) and Olympic returnees Great Britain (July 27).
Canada’s football squad:
Goalkeepers: Stephanie Labbe (FC Rosengard), Kailen Sheridan (Gotham FC)
Defenders: Kadeisha Buchanan (Lyon), Vanessa Gilles (Bordeaux), Shelina Zadorsky (Tottenham Hotspur), Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash), Ashley Lawrence (PSG), Jayde Riviere (Michigan Wolverines)
Midfielders: Jessie Fleming (Chelsea), Julia Grosso (Texas Longhorns), Quinn (OL Reign), Desiree Scott (Kansas City)
Forwards: Janine Beckie (Manchester City), Adriana Leon (West Ham United), Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash), Deanne Rose (Flordia Gators), Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns), Evelyne Viens (Gotham FC)
Alternates: Gabrielle Carle (Florida State Seminoles), Jordyn Huitema (PSG), Erin McLeod (Orlando Pride), Sophie Schmidt (Houston Dash)