Veterans and youth from Burnaby to Whitby named to Canada’s World Cup Squad


Published July 10, 2023 at 1:12 pm

Kailen Sheridan

Canadian soccer legend Christine Sinclair, 40, is returning for her sixth World Cup; 18 year-old Whitby forward Olivia Smith will be in her first when Canada kicks off the 2023 global tournament July 21 against Nigeria in Melbourne, Australia.

Both players hope to make an impact at the month-long tournament, as will the other 21 players named to Bev Priestman’s squad, including four with Durham Region connections: stalwart defender Allysha Chapman (Courtice) will be playing in her third World Cup; Nichelle Prince (Ajax), a goal scorer in 2019, is coming back from injury for her second World Cup; and Jayde Riviere, who played youth soccer in Pickering, is also back for her second.

Starting in goal is Whitby’s Kailen Sheridan, who has comfortably held down the number one job with Canada since Stephanie Labbé’s retirement last year and considered among the best goalkeepers in the world.

Canada is the defending Olympic gold medalist and won bronze medals the two previous Olympics but has struggled to produce at the same level at World Cups, where their best finish was fourth 20 years ago.

Priestman, however, is confident her team can get the job done down under.

“I’m proud to name this dynamic and exciting 23 player roster,” Canada’s Women’s National Team Head Coach said. “I know every single person has given their all to make this squad. It’s a great mix of veterans, experienced and new players who can all bring something different this summer.”

Some of the young players named will have big holes to fill on the roster with veteran midfielder Desiree Scott, forward Janine Beckie (Canada’s fourth all-time leading scorer) and young fullback Jade Rose all missing the tournament through injury.

“I’m naturally devastated for the players who have missed out, especially due to injuries, but I know every player will be with us on our journey and have been pivotal in getting us to this point,” Priestman said.

Olivia Smith

Simi Awujo, Vanessa Gilles, Cloé Lacasse, Lysianne Proulx, Evelyne Viens and Smith will all be making their World Cup debuts in the tournament, which will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand. With an average age of 27, the group features a balanced blend of veterans and fresh faces.

Sinclair, who has scored in all five previous World Cups and is the international leader in goals scored with 190, is not the focus of the offence like she once was but will still be called upon to deliver some goals in the tournament. Midfielder Jessie Fleming, who will likely wear the captain’s armband when Sinclair retires, will be in the middle of Canada’s build-up play and also there to finish.

The backline could be a sore point for Canada, but Rose should step in to join Chapman and established international stars in Kadeisha Buchanen and Ashley Lawrence to make sure Sheridan can do her job effectively.

This year marks Canada’s eighth consecutive participation at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, coming off back-to-back appearances in the knockout phase at Canada 2015 (Quarterfinals) and France 2019 (Round of 16).

Beyond their opening match against Nigeria (10:30 PM ET July 21), Canada will face Ireland in Perth on Wednesday July 26 (08:30 ET) and then co-hosts Australia back in Melbourne on Monday July 31 (08:30 ET).

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