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Sinclair leads soccer nominees

TORONTO – The Canadian Soccer Association has nominated its roster for the London 2012 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament. Canadian head coach John Herdman has selected 18 players that will join Team Canada for the London 2012 Olympics.

Canada’s roster features goalkeepers Karina LeBlanc and Erin McLeod, defenders Candace Chapman, Carmelina Moscato, Emily Zurrer, Robyn Gayle, Lauren Sesselmann, Chelsea Stewart and Rhian Wilkinson, midfielders Kaylyn Kyle, Diana Matheson, Kelly Parker, Sophie Schmidt and Desiree Scott, and forwards Jonelle Filigno, Christine Sinclair, Melissa Tancredi and Brittany Timko.

“On behalf of the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team, I am very happy to welcome these exceptional athletes,” said 2012 Canadian Olympic Team Chef de Mission Mark Tewksbury. “I know they will make Canadians proud in London.”

“These athletes give their everything to represent Canada,” said Canadian Olympic Committee President Marcel Aubut. “They are an inspiration to us all and I look forward to seeing them take the pitch in London.”

This marks Canada’s second participation in the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament. Canada is one of 12 teams with medal hopes, with the competition split into three groups of four teams for the group phase.

Canada, a two-time CONCACAF champion, qualified for the London 2012 Olympics out of Vancouver, BC in January. In front of packed Canadian crowd at BC Place, Canada won a confederation silver medal after qualifying as one of two Olympic teams from CONCACAF.

Of Canada’s 18 players, 14 of them were CONCACAF champions in December 2010, including two-time champion Karina LeBlanc. Canada’s most experienced players are Christine Sinclair (captain), Diana Matheson, Rhian Wilkinson, Brittany Timko, Candace Chapman and LeBlanc (all with more than 100 appearances at the international “A” level). Seventeen players have participated in at least one FIFA Women’s World Cup, all but Lauren Sesselmann who is also Canada’s least experienced player (16 international appearances).

Twelve of Canada’s 18 players also have experience from the last Women’s Olympic Football Tournament at Beijing 2008. That was the year Canada reached the quarter-final phase of the competition, only falling in extra time to eventual champion and CONCACAF rival USA. The six players hoping to make their Olympic debut at London 2012 are Sesselmann, Chelsea Stewart, Kelly Parker, Desiree Scott, Kaylyn Kyle and Carmelina Moscato.

Seventeen of Canada’s 18 players also came up through the Canadian national youth program (all but Sesselmann). Six players won a silver medal at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2002: Sinclair, Timko, Chapman, Erin McLeod, Carmelina Moscato and Robyn Gayle. Six players won a CONCACAF youth title with Canada, be it in 2004 (Timko and Emily Zurrer) or 2008 (Jonelle Filigno, Kaylyn Kyle, Sophie Schmidt and Chelsea Stewart).

Canada faces Japan on 25 July in Coventry, South Africa on 28 July in Coventry, and Sweden on 31 July in Newcastle. Both Japan (champion) and Sweden (bronze) were medal winners at the most recent FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011.

Either two or three teams will advance from each group, with eight teams participating in the quarter-final phase. The quarter-final matches are on 3 August, the semi-final matches are on 6 August, and the final medal matches are on 9 August.