Women's soccer team celebrating

Concacaf Championship standing between women’s soccer and Tokyo 2020

Canada’s women’s soccer team are back-to-back bronze medallists, and looking to claim the top prize at Tokyo 2020. But to do so they will need to get through the Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.

What is the Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship?

Christine Sinclair battles for the ball

Team Canada captain Christine Sinclair tries to keep the ball away from Team Mexico midfielder Karla Nieto during the first half of a women’s international soccer friendly at BMO Field in Toronto, Saturday, May 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

The Concacaf (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) tournament is a competition designed to determine which national soccer teams from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, will qualify for the upcoming Olympics. Eight teams have qualified for the Women’s Concacaf Tournament, but only the top two teams will be be eligible to play at Tokyo 2020.

The eight teams that have qualified this year are: Canada, USA, Costa Rica, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

This year the United States is the host city, with three venues across the country: BBVA Stadium (Houston, Texas), H-E-B Park (Edinburg, Texas), Dignity Health Sports Park (Carson, California).

What is the format for the tournament?

The eight nations will be divided into two groups (A and B), and they will face-off against the other teams in their group. The winner of Group A will face the runner-up of Group B in one semi-final, and the winner of Group B will face the runner-up of Group A in the other semi-final. The winners of the semifinal matches automatically qualify for Tokyo 2020 simply by making it to the final.

Which teams are Canada competing against?

Canada was drawn into Group B alongside Mexico, Jamaica, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Group A features the USA, Costa Rica, Panama, and Haiti.

When and where is Canada playing?

January 29th: Canada vs Saint Kitts and Nevis at H-E-B Park, Edinburg, Texas

February 1st: Canada vs Jamaica at H-E-B Park, Edinburg, Texas

February 4th: Canada vs Mexico at H-E-B Park, Edinburg, Texas

Group A will play their matches at the BBVA Stadium in Houston, Texas. The semifinals and final match will be played at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.

The semis will take place on February 7th, with the final being played on February 9th.

Who is on Team Canada’s roster?

Captained by Christine Sinclair and coached by Kenneth Heiner-Møller, this is the 20 player roster:

Forwards: Deanne Rose, Jordyn Huitema, Gabrielle Carle, Nichelle Prince, Janine Beckie, Adriana Leon, Christine Sinclair

Midfielders: Julia Grosso, Desiree Scott, Sophie Schmidt, Jessie Fleming

Defenders: Allysha Chapman, Kadeisha Buchanan, Shelina Zadorsky, Rebecca Quinn, Ashley Lawrence, Jayde Riviere

Goalkeepers: Stephanie Labbé, Kailen Sheridan, Sabrina D’Angelo

Will Canada qualify for Tokyo 2020?

Out of all the teams playing, Canada’s records shows that they are most definitely one of the stronger teams, but there is one team they want to avoid playing until the finals – Team USA. The USWNT has been a powerhouse in women’s soccer, holding four World Cups to their name; winning two of them back-to-back in 2015 and 2019.

USWNT will likely claim the top spot in Group A, meaning that Team Canada has to also finish first in Group B to avoid playing the Americans until the final.

Will any records be broken?

Christine Sinclair celebrates

Canada forward Christine Sinclair (12) celebrates at the conclusion of a soccer match against Panama at the CONCACAF women’s World Cup qualifying tournament in Frisco, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Andy Jacobsohn)

Apart from looking to qualify for her fourth Olympic Games, Sinclair will also be chasing her 185th international goal. She is currently at 183 international goals, only one goal behind retired USWNT player Abby Wambach, who holds the current record of most international goals (184). If Sinclair reaches her 185th goal she will become the all-time leading international goalscorer for both men and women.