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Canada Soccer to kick off first ever Tournoi de France on Wednesday

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22 Canadian women are headed to Calais and Valenciennes to face some of the top talent in the world

Soccer: CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying-Costa Rica at Canada
Jordyn Huitema (9) scores a goal off a rebound during the second half of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying soccer tournament against Costa Rica. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Canada Soccer has announced a 22-player squad for the upcoming newly-established Tournoi de France, which will take place in Calais and Valenciennes from March 4-10, 2020.

The Canadian Women’s National Team will be up against three tough opponents: France, Netherlands and Brazil at the international tournament. The matches will act as preparation for the quickly upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games this summer.

“This four-nation tournament will be a great opportunity for preparing ourselves for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” said Kenneth Heiner-Møller, Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team Head Coach in a press release. “It is crucial as a program that we deliver a massive performance at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Japan. The tournament in France will give us the opportunity to face great oppositions and to measure ourselves against some of the top football teams in the world.”

Canada will first face France on Mar. 4 (11.00 a.m. EST), followed by Netherlands on Mar. 7 (1:00 p.m. EST) before closing the tournament against Brazil on 10 March at 19.00 local (2:00 p.m. EST). All three matches will kickoff at Stade de l’Epopée in Calais—the northern region of France.

The 22 players selected to take part in the tournament will be familiar to the team, being that 20 players included in the squad were members of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 roster. Seventeen players were part of the Rio 2016 bronze medal winning squad. Veterans Diana Matheson, Christine Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt, and Desiree Scott were also bronze medallists at London 2012.

The more obvious inclusions in the lineup are recent Concacaf Best XI all-stars Stephanie Labbé, Kadeisha Buchanan, Jordyn Huitema, and Ashley Lawrence. Of note, Labbé was also the Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship Golden Glove winner, while Huitema was the Golden Boot winner. Both Buchanan (2015, 2017) and Lawrence (2019), meanwhile, are recent Canadian Players of the Year.

The Tournoi de France will give this tried and tested Canada squad the opportunity to face three teams which are among the top 10 nations of the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking. Both Netherlands and Brazil have also already qualified for the Olympic Games.

“We have three big games ahead of us, and everyone is excited to play those games, but we also want to get those results for Canada,” said full-back Ashley Lawrence, in a press release. “It’s that much more exciting when we have the opportunity to play against some of the best teams in the world, because we know that is where we belong. We want to be the best, so we definitely understand the importance of these games.”

Canada will also use the Tournoi de France as an opportunity to further assess its player pool. While the women were allowed to dress 23 players for the FIFA Women’s World Cup last summer, the Women’s Football Olympic Tournament roster size is 18, so every match—and training session—will be seen as tryout for at least some of these Canadians.