Unlike their neighbours to the south, Canada are relative novices when it comes to the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament. They made their debut Games appearance at Beijing 2008, where they went out to eventual champions USA in the quarter-finals. The Americans put paid to Canadian hopes again in London four years later, this time in a thrilling semi-final. Three times in the lead, the Canucks finally went down 4-3 in extra time. They recovered their poise in the bronze-medal match, beating France to claim the last place on the podium. Following a creditable performance on home soil at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, John Herdman’s side will be keen to impress again in Rio.
The road to Rio
Canada had little problem in booking their place in Brazil, with star striker Christine Sinclair further cementing her place in the history of the women’s game in the qualifiers. In scoring her 159th international goal in the group phase, Sinclair moved past legendary USA forward Mia Hamm to become the women’s game’s second-highest scorer, with only Abby Wambach, who has 184 to her name, standing ahead of her. Kicking off with a 5-0 win over Guyana, Canada then put six goals past Trinidad and Tobago without reply, one of them being Sinclair’s landmark strike, before proceeding to thump Guatemala 10-0. The Canucks striker took her career tally to 161 with a brace in the 3-1 semi-final win over Costa Rica, the prelude to another defeat to old rivals USA in the final.
During his five-year spell in charge of New Zealand’s women’s team, John Herdman steered them to Beijing 2008 and to the 2007 and 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ competitions. It was after the last of those tournaments that the Englishman took charge of Canada and promptly set about rebuilding the side. Choosing to field a young squad at the 2011 Pan-American Games, Herdman was rewarded for his enterprise with a gold medal. He then oversaw the Canucks’ qualification for London 2012 at a tournament they hosted in Vancouver. Competing once again on home soil at last year’s Women’s World Cup, Herdman’s charges reached the quarter-finals, where they lost 2-1 to an England side that went on to finish third.
Christine Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt, Melissa Tancredi
24 - Canada boasted the most prolific attack of the CONCACAF qualifying competition, scoring 24 goals in total, one more than USA.