Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – Women’s Football
Japan vs Canada
July 21, 2021 at 6:30 a.m. EST / 7:30 p.m. JST
Sapporo Dome in Sapporo, Japan
Watch Live: CBC TV Network, CBC Gem, CBC Olympics app, CBC Sports website on Tokyo 2020.
RELATED READING: Tokyo 2020 Preview: CanWNT Heads To Japan For Third In A Row
Canada’s campaign to “change the color of the medal” at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics kicks off Wednesday with their opening group stage game against hosts Japan.
This will be Bev Priestman’s first game in a major tournament as the head coach of a senior national team, and a good way to do it – against a strong team, in their home Olympics, with a good departure surely the priority. There will be no fans in the stands, as Japan has declared another state of emergency linked to COVID-19, but the desire to win at home will still be very present for a Japanese team which is in the midst of its season. generation”.
There are players from the Japanese team who were part of the winning team of the 2011 World Cup – as well as the teams that have won back-to-back AFC Women’s Asian Cups and silver medals at the 2012 Olympics and the 2015 World Cup, among others. things.
Arsenal’s Mana Iwabuchi, still only 28, has made a remarkable appearance in those five meetings, with Japanese captain Saki Kumagai being one of the most successful players the sport has ever known. The 30-year-old defender / midfielder was a part of all of the above international teams, minus the 2014 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, but would need several trophy cabinets to house all the other things she won – 25 of them between her club career (mainly at Olympique Lyonnais, where she played with Kadeisha Buchanan for a few years) and internationally. All of this, and the 2019 Asian Women’s Footballer of the Year to top the cake.
This level of experience leading a solid backline will be an important test for anyone starting at the top of the table, but as we know Canada has proven this year that it can deliver results against some of the best teams in the world. world. In 2021, they beat England, Wales and Argentina, drawn against the Netherlands, Brazil and the Czech Republic, and found themselves within 10 minutes of a draw against the best. United States world team, among other results. All of these teams are in the top 35 in the world, so Canada took on the best in the world ahead of these Olympics.
The 3-3 draw against the Netherlands behind closed doors is a particularly positive result, as it occurred against a team that won the 2017 European Women’s Championship and finished second in the 2019 Women’s World Cup. It was also positive to see Canada scoring goals (two from Janine Beckie and one from Nichelle Prince) after two scoreless draws at their previous camp in June.
In their day, Canada can beat anyone with the star power it possesses – all-time top international scorer Christine Sinclair is one of a star group – and if both teams show up on Wednesday , it should be a very entertaining game to open. their run to Tokyo 2020.
Canada’s biggest strength is her backline – Kadeisha Buchanan is one of the best center-backs in the world, Shelina Zadorsky has captained Tottenham Hotspur in the Women’s Super League and Vanessa Gilles has hardly slipped in the during their national team career – but assuming Priestman continues to play a fullback, only two of them will be able to start in the middle of the defense. On the left there will likely be Allysha Chapman or Gabrielle Carle, while what Priestman considers Ashley Lawrence’s best position will be the deciding factor on the right. If it’s right away, she’ll start there, but if it’s in midfield, Jayde Rivière is a more than competent assistant. The bottom line will be worked against a team that includes the aforementioned Mana Iwabuchi and Washington Spirit striker / midfielder Saori Takarada, an aspiring star who already has over 100 professional appearances at 21.
This match will take place at the Sapporo Dome in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan – the home of the Japanese high-flying team Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo and Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of the Nippon Professional Baseball League – and more than 1,000 km north of Tokyo. The stadium opened in 2001 and has also hosted matches of the 2002 World Cup, as well as the 2019 Rugby World Cup and several other major sporting events. Canada’s second group stage game against Chile will also take place at the venue (Saturday, July 24 at 3:30 a.m. EST).
3 THINGS TO LOOK FOR
- Sinclair ready for his 300th international selection: In addition to holding the record for most goals scored by an international footballer, with 186 in the past 21 years, Canada captain Christine Sinclair is expected to join another very small group of legends on Wednesday. Only 23 players in women’s international football have made 200 caps, including Sinclair and two other Canadians – recently retired Diana Matheson (206) and Sophie Schmidt (205), who is also on the team in Japan for this tournament. Sinclair will do even better when she plays for the first time in Tokyo and becomes the fourth player to reach 300 caps for her national team. Currently sitting on 299, Sinclair is behind a trio of Americans in the all-time leaderboard – still active Carli Lloyd (306), Christie Pearce (311) and the untouchable Kristine Lilly, who made 354 appearances between 1987 and 2010 Sinclair is arguably the best player to ever don a Canadian kit, and reaching milestone 300 is another milestone to add to the collection. Next step – 200 goals? Only time will tell.
- Japanese familiarity could be crucial again Canada: The aforementioned Saki Kumagai will be a huge player for Japan in this tournament as a center-back / defensive midfielder, but the rest of the Japanese defenders should be a challenge to break down as well. They also have a trio of defenders – Risa Shimizu, Asato Miyagawa and Nanami Kitamura – from NTV Tokyo Verdy Beleza, who finished 3rd in the Japanese elite in 2020 – this pre-existing familiarity can prove to be important in such a short tournament, and this group has it. There are seven players in total from this squad, plus four each from reigning Japanese champions Urawa Reds and second-placed INAC Kobe Leonessa. This team has a lot of chemistry and a lot of players who play with each other on a regular basis which could be a big factor in their success at this tournament.
- Who is in Canada’s top XI?: Bev Priestman has a lot of decisions to make ahead of Canada’s opener – with heavy battles lasting for minutes in most positions on the field. If there are locks to start with, assuming everyone is fit and available for selection, it would likely be Christine Sinclair at the top and Kadeisha Buchanan at the center-back – with Jessie Fleming, Janine Beckie and Ashley Lawrence are also expected to start in Canada’s Best Eleven. If Ashley Lawrence starts in midfield it will open up a right-back spot for Jayde Riviere, but if she starts in the baseline Quinn and Desiree Scott are probably the favorites to start in the midfield triangle, we saw Priestman deploy during her tenure as Patron of Canada. On the wings, Nichelle Prince, Janine Beckie and Adriana Leon are among the players vying for two places in a 4-3-3 formation, while Vanessa Gilles has proven she is ready to start for the national team at the center-back if Priestman chooses her over Buchanan’s usual partner in recent years, Shelina Zadorsky. Ah, make decisions …
ALL TIME SERIES
Japan wins: 7 || Canada wins: 4 || Prints: 3
International friendly: October 6, 2019 – Japan 4-0 Canada