Canada announced its squad for the upcoming Arnold Clark Cup soccer tournament Monday, as the Canadian women’s team prepares to kick off the four-team competition against hosts England February 17, before facing Germany and Spain.
And Canada head coach Bev Priestman believes the round-robin tournament is the perfect opportunity for her players to move on from their gold medal triumph at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics last year.
“To be honest, this camp and beyond is the start of a new journey,” said Priestman during a media call Monday. “So the messaging is, we’ve climbed one mountain but we’re going to have to go and climb a completely different mountain.
“The qualifiers and the World Cup are very, very different to what you need to be able to compete at an Olympic Games. So, for us it’s the start of new journey.”
Some familiar faces but no Sinclair
There are many familiar names on the roster including forward Janine Beckie, centre back Kadeisha Buchanan, midfielder Jessie Fleming, forward Jordyn Huitema, fullback Ashley Lawrence, forward Deanne Rose and centre back Shelina Zadorsky.
Notably, Christine Sinclair will miss the tournament. Sinclair’s mother Sandi recently died after due to Multiple Sclerosis. And soccer’s all-time leading international goalscorer will be spending time with her family.
There are also a number of first-time call-ups including midfielder Marie-Yasmine Alidou, forward Tanya Boychuk and goalkeeper Devon Kerr.
And Canada’s coach admits she’s trying to find the balance between competing well over the next three games and giving some of the new players some experience.
- Story: ‘Excellent’ Canada rolls on towards World Cup 2022 with win over El Salvador
- Story: ‘Resilient’ Canada beats USA 2-0, moves closer to World Cup 2022 qualification
“It’s going to be a challenge,” said Priestman. “But I’ve opted to, and I’ll have to this year because we don’t have that extra year that we normally have because of the Olympic delay, to just keep bringing in some new faces that have an opportunity to be assessed amongst our environment.”
But Priestman believes her squad needs to regularly face the game’s big teams to stay sharp, no matter how experienced, or inexperienced, individual players are.
“We want to be competing with the best continuously,” she said. “The safe thing to do would be to go and play some weaker opposition. But we want to keep moving forward.”