Head Coach John Herdman has named the 20 players that will represent Canada at the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship that begins in just over two weeks.
The tournament, that runs February 10-21 in Texas, is a chance for teams from the CONCACAF region to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The top two teams in the tournament will earn a spot in the Olympics.
This tournament was held in Vancouver four years ago, a tournament where Canada finished second to the United States.
The roster that features three goalkeepers, six defenders, five midfielders, and six forwards, is three players fewer than the 23-player roster from the FIFA Women’s World Cup this past summer. Herdman has chosen seven newcomers to the roster, while ten players that represented Canada at the World Cup will not be on this team.
Players not brought back include: Carmelina Moscato, Lauren Sesselmann, Kaylyn Kyle, Jonelle Filigno, Adriana Leon, Marie-Eve Nault, Emily Zurrer, Robyn Gayle, Selenia Iacchelli, and Karina LeBlanc.
Herdman’s changes point to going with a younger lineup, with the average age of the seven newcomers at age 20, ranging in age from 16-23. The ten players not brought back have an average age of 29.
“We are really excited about this squad and the confidence, determination, and skill they bring to the pitch,” said Herdman. “We had a strong group of players to select from, which made final selection extremely challenging, but we have put together a team that will go out there and get the job done, which is simply to make this country proud by qualifying for RIO 2016.”
Herdman selected 13 players who were part of last year’s World Cup squad, seven from the 2012 London Olympic bronze medal winning squad, and a total of seven players 20 years old and under.
“We’ve been evaluating players, in and out of the Women’s National Team camp, and have had a lot of good opportunities to see players in high pressure environments, including the FIFA Women’s World Cup and Pan Am Games, but also through the EXCEL development program,” said Herdman. “The team we have selected today represents the best of Canadian soccer, consisting of a subtle blend of youth and experience. Right now, we are in a position to focus on the upcoming qualification tournament and hopefully position ourselves to defend our Olympic bronze medal this summer in Rio.”
Canada, currently ranked 11th in the world, has a favourable group with the likes of 48th ranked Trinidad and Tobago, 76th ranked Guatemala, and 89th ranked Guyana. Group A includes #1 ranked USA, Mexico (26th), Costa Rica (34th), and Puerto Rico (108th).
Canada will play its entire tournament at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, which hosts Group B, the knockout round, and final match.