Preview: Canada and their Women’s Olympic Qualifying Campaign

Canada WNT
CHONGQING, CHINA — NOVEMBER 10: Christine Sinclair #12 of Canada Women celebrates scoring their first goal during the Women's International match between Canada and New Zealand atChongqing Yongchuan Sports Center Stadium on November 10, 2019 in Chongqing, China. (Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images).

Preview — Canada and their Women’s Olympic Qualifying campaign will take place starting tomorrow. The Canadian WNT are two-time bronze medalists and are ranked eighth in the world.

This is a drop of three places from the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup draw, where they were ranked fifth. Canada is not in great form after losing to Netherlands and Sweden in the World Cup. They then tied 1-1 with Haiti in a friendly on Jan. 20. A large part of their fall was the creation of new leagues in Europe. This was seen in Canada’s losses to both the Dutch and the Swedish.

However, Canada is expected to qualify for the Olympics. Unlike in Europe, CONCACAF only has two professional female leagues. These leagues are the National Women’s Soccer League and LIGA MX Femenil. Fortunately, for Canada, the Mexico league just started a few years ago and there is still a gap between both countries. Plenty of Canadian players feature in the NWSL, including Christine Sinclair and Shelina Zadorsky.

This article will look at the teams Canada will face in the group stage, which includes St. Kitts and Nevis — a first-time tournament participant — Jamaica and Mexico. Arguably, Canada’s toughest opponent will probably be Jamaica, who made it to the FIFA Women’s World Cup last year.

Jamaica — Toughest Adversary for Canada

Although Mexico has a professional women’s soccer league, Jamaica is a better team. Unlike Mexico, Jamaica was at the last Women’s World Cup in France. The Reggae Girlz lost all three games in the World Cup with a differential of -11. They might prove to be Canada’s biggest test in the group stage. Canada will be facing the 51st ranked Jamaican side on Feb. 1, in Texas. This will be Canada’s second match in the group stage.

The team’s road to the World Cup was incredible. Jamaica shockingly defeated Costa Rica 1-0 in the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. They lost to the United States, but won against Panama in penalties. Panama was the team that eliminated Mexico by beating them in the group stage.

Mexico — Second-Highest Ranked Team in Group B

Mexico has the second-highest ranking in the group. They are ranked 26th in the world. Right now, they are the only team — besides Canada and the United States — to qualify for the Olympics. In 2004, Mexico upset Canada to make it to the Olympics. There, they made it to the quarterfinals, eventually losing 5-0 to Brazil.

However, Mexico will not be thinking about their Olympic record. They did not make it to the World Cup last year. Mexico will be looking to rebound from a disappointing qualifying session where they lost to Panama in the group stage. Canada will finish their group stage against Mexico on Feb. 4. Furthermore, they will start their group stage against St. Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday.

St. Kitts and Nevis — Newcomers to the Tournament

St. Kitts and Nevis are the lowest-ranked teams in the group. They are ranked 127th in the FIFA rankings. Of the three teams, this is the team Canada should defeat in their group. Canada currently sits 117 rankings above St. Kitts and Nevis with a ranking of seventh in the world.

Rachael Kriger had an exclusive interview with head coach Jené Baclawski here at Last Word on Soccer.

This will be St. Kitts and Nevis’ first time at the Olympic Qualifying tournament. St. Kitts and Nevis will face the daunting task of facing a team that is expected to qualify for the Olympics.

Canada Group B Overview

Canada’s first game against St. Kitts and Nevis is tomorrow and should be an easy win for Canada before they face tougher opponents. Also, look for Christine Sinclair to potentially tie or break the all-time international goal scoring record tomorrow or during the tournament. However, despite Jamaica’s improvement and Mexico’s new league, there is still a gap between them and Canada.

All the group stage games for Canada will take place at H-E-B Park in Edinburg, Texas. If they make it to the semi-finals and finals, they will play at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. The semi-final games will take place on Feb. 7, and the finale will take place on Feb. 9, in Carson, California.

It’s paramount that Canada finishes first in its group. This is because finishing second likely means they will have to face the United States, the reigning Women’s World Cup champion. If Canada finishes first, they will most likely face either Panama or Costa Rica. However, it could also be Haiti, who recently tied with Canada earlier this month.

Only the winners of the semi-final match will qualify as representatives of CONCACAF for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

 

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