The past
Canada have never before reached a Women's Olympic Football Tournament, but their steady progress in CONCACAF of late has the North Americans firmly entrenched as the second-best team in the region behind the United States. The Canadians qualified for their first Women's World Cup in Sweden in 1995, where they went out in the first round. They exited early next time out at USA 1999 as well, but faired far better in the next finals as they reached the last four of USA 2003. Although they went out of China 2007 in the group stages again, they only lost out to Australia in the fading seconds of their final group game.

The present
The Canucks, with a hearty blend of raw physical power and competitiveness, have begun to challenge the United States for bragging rights in the North, Central American and Caribbean zone. They took the their neighbours to the south to extra-time in the final of the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup in 2006 and then forced a penalty shootout with the Americans in the final of qualifying for Beijing 2008 in April. Christine Sinclair is the undisputed goal queen in the team while Kara Lang controls the midfield.

The future
Hoping to emerge from the shadow of their American neighbours, Canada will be looking to their first Olympic tournament as an opportunity to announce their arrival as a global power. Norwegian head coach Even Pellerud is happy with side's preparations but also recognises improvements need to be made. "We need to work more on our midfield shape and more on our back four as well. But overall I can't be more pleased with my team's performances in the qualifiers, and we are looking forward to Beijing."

Facts and figures

Key players
Christine Sinclair (forward), Kara Lang (midfield), Brittany Timko (midfield), Erin McLeod (goalkeeper), Melissa Tancredi (forward)

Qualifying statistics
The Canadians only just missed out on finishing top of CONCACAF qualifying, but lost to the USA in a shootout. Overall, they scored nine goals and conceded just one in the space of four games.

The numbers game
4: The number of goals Melissa Tancredi scored in the CONCACAF qualifying campaign to be named top scorer.