The Canadians are hungry for revenge. After getting bronze four years ago in London, this team is ready to go further. It’s been just over a year since they hosted the Women’s World Cup and the Canadian Women’s National Team has a tough group to play as they prepare for the next big stage in Rio.
This will be Canada’s third Olympics, the first being Beijing in 2008. In the Beijing games, Canada made it out of the group stage, but lost in the quarterfinals. Their second go-around in London was much better. They were knocked out of the semifinals in a thrilling extra-time victory for the USWNT, but beat France in the third place match to secure the bronze.
GOALKEEPERS: Stephanie Labbé, Sabrina D’Angelo
DEFENDERS: Kadeisha Buchanan, Rebecca Quinn, Shelina Zadorsky, Josée Bélanger, Allysha Chapman, Rhian Wilkinson
MIDFIELDERS: Jessie Fleming, Ashley Lawrence, Diana Matheson, Deanna Rose, Sophie Schmidt, Desiree Scott
FORWARDS: Janine Beckie, Nichelle Prince, Christine Sinclair, Melissa Tancredi
The Canadian roster is stacked with veteran experience as well as some newcomers. Christine Sinclair and Diana Matheson will be key to the guidance of this Olympic team. Sinclair is the most capped and top goal scorer for the Canadians. Playing up top, Sinclair is best as that big target. Similar to Abby Wambach, she’s a big player with the ability to make chances for herself and her team. Matheson is the exact opposite of Sinclair in the fact that she’s small and not that target player, but the one that creates the chances for those players. Matheson is quick and agile. She’s able to see the opportunities ahead and create chances at goal for her team, which will be good as they have a tough group to face.
Defensively the young Kadeisha Buchanan will be an important part in keeping opponents out. She is a strong force in the backline and with her commanding presence and her ability to see the play ahead of her, Buchanan can help lead her team to fewer goals allowed and out of the group stage.
Many members of this roster have the experience and ability to get this team out of the group, but there will be little room for error as they go through this Olympic tournament.
The first match is against Australia and the Canadians do not have a winning record in their previous matches against the Matildas. All-time the record is 5-7-3 but to win this game the Canadians will have to stop Lisa De Vanna and Samantha Kerr. They have the defense to hold them and the Olympic experience. Only De Vanna has Olympic experience as the Australians failed to qualify for the last two tournaments. The bigger stage may be an issue for the Matildas, but the Canadians will want to score first and hold pressure against this fast team.
The second game is against Zimbabwe. This team should be an easy win for the Canadians, but they should not assume so and play the game their way. If they can manage to keep the game at their pace, finish balls and force Zimbabwe to defend, they should win the match. It will also be a confidence booster as they head into their final group stage game with Germany.
In twelve meetings with the Germans, Canada has not won a single match. If they want to beat the Germans, the Canadians must put on pressure strong and early and get the first goal. It will be a hard match to win and since it’s the last group match even a draw will make a difference.
More than a bronze team
The Canadians probably have one of the toughest groups of the tournament, so getting out of the group stage will be tough. With this strong team, the Canadians can make it out, but then the hard part begins: getting revenge on their bronze.