TORONTO, Canada—Bev Priestman has named her first squad.
On Tuesday, the Canadian women’s national team announced its 23-player roster for the 2021 SheBelieves Cup presented by Visa. The four-team tournament is slated to begin on Thursday with Canada kicking things off against the hosts and current World No. 1: the United States.
Priestman, who was appointed as Head Coach of the women’s national team back in November, has helped name a squad that includes a mixture of veterans and youngsters. Among those named are 12 players that were part of the first Canadian Olympic team to win back-to-back medals at a summer Olympic Games in more than a century at Rio 2016 and five others who could make their debut for the senior side.
Unavailable due to injury, Canada will be without the services of all-time leading scorer Christine Sinclair, midfielder Diana Matheson, goalkeeper Erin Mcleod, and fullback Bianca St-Georges. Kadeisha Buchanan, Jordyn Huitema, and Ashley Lawrence will also be unavailable to represent Canada in the 2021 SheBelieves Cup as the trio were not released from their French clubs following the implementation of a new mandatory seven-day quarantine for those entering France.
That means there will be more opportunity for others to step up, especially for those still looking for their first international “A” appearance, including Evelyne Viens of Sky Blue FC, Jordyn Listro of Orlando Pride, Rylee Foster of Liverpool FC, Samantha Chang of University of South Carolina, and reigning Canadian Youth Player of the Year Jade Rose.
“I know that every player who puts on the Canadian jersey will give everything they have to get a result and make their country proud”, said Priestman, in a press release. “I have been really impressed by the mindset and application of this group of players since the beginning of our February camp, and I can’t wait to see them in action against some of the best teams in the world.”
Canada (ranked 8) last played an international match on Mar. 10, almost a full year ago, a 2-2 draw against Brazil at the Tournoi de France. They’ll have the opportunity to rematch their South American foes, as Brazil (also ranked 8) and Argentina (ranked 23) round out the rest of the competition at the SheBelieves Cup, which runs Feb. 18-24.
Their first match against the United States—which also marks Priestman’s debut as Head Coach—is quite the welcome back to international competition for Canada. But as the newly-appointed manager recognizes, it’ll be a good opportunity for the red-and-white to push themselves and prepare for the Olympic Games.
“The SheBelieves Cup will provide a great opportunity for players to rise up and show that they can compete at this Olympic level”, added Priestman. “The tournament will be used to assess the player pool and players’ readiness to achieve our goals at the Olympic Games. Ultimately this sort of competition is exactly where we all want to be, pushing ourselves as we move forward in this journey.”
This will be Canada’s first time competing at the four-team international tournament. Olivia Smith, Canada’s youngest-ever debutant, and Victoria Pickett were the only ones at camp not named to the team.
Join us on Waking the Red Weekly, live at 12:15 EST, as we’ll be accompanied by The Toronto Star’s Laura Armstrong to preview the competition for Canada (and much more).