Canada
© Getty Images

The past
Canada may be relatively new to the Olympic stage, but have been mainstays at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™, having appeared five consecutive times since missing out on the inaugural tournament in China in 1991. The Canadians have managed to progress past the group phase just once as they finished fourth at USA 2003. Despite that success, Canada went on to suffer early exits at the next two editions, perhaps the most disappointing of which came at FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011™. After showing tremendous growth in North, Central America, and Caribbean qualifying, the Canucks failed to collect a single point at the global showpiece. But with their disappointing campaign in Germany behind them, Canada have shifted gears and are looking towards bettering their quarter-finals departure at the last Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.

The present
The Canucks have firmly stamped their place among the CONCACAF elite as of late, claiming their place at London 2012 as runners-up to USA and qualifying atop the region for Germany 2011. Despite their premature exit in Germany, the Canadians quickly reaffirmed their status among the region’s best, with the appointment of former New Zealand coach John Herdman helping to revitalize the squad. While the Canucks are keen on further developing a possession-based style of play, they have also made clear their intent to stay true to a physical brand of football traditionally associated with the side. To book their place at this summer’s Olympic Games, the Canadians claimed a comfortable 3-1 victory over Mexico at the semi-final stage of qualifying before the ten-day competition finally showed its wear in a 4-0 loss to USA in the final.

The future
In assuring their place at London 2012, Canada, along with fellow heavyweights USA and Mexico, have initiated an era of stiff competition in the CONCACAF region. Since taking over the reins as head coach, Herdman has set his sights on developing top-class players starting at youth level. With the next FIFA Women’s World Cup set to take place on home soil, the Englishman is keen on producing more first-rate talent than ever before. "I think the redemption will have to come in the Olympics," Canadian forward Christine Sinclair said. "The World Cup was disappointing for us. When John came on board, he brought the passion back to our team.”

Facts and figures
Former stars
Charmaine Hooper (forward)

Key players
Christine Sinclair (forward), Karina LeBlanc (goalkeeper), Diana Matheson (midfielder)

Qualifying statistics
Canada will be making their second successive Women’s Olympic Football Tournament appearance, having appeared for the first time at the previous instalment in Beijing 2008.

The numbers game
9Canada captain Christine Sinclair scored nine goals in the CONCACAF qualifying campaign to finish the tournament as top scorer by a three-goal margin.