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For the Canadian Women’s national team, the 2023 World Cup was a tournament of opportunity. They weren’t heavy favourites heading into the tournament but they were dark horses. The squad had talent and a mixture of veterans and rising young stars.
Why not them right?
Unfortunately, Canada’s World Cup has come to an unceremonious end. They ended up losing 4-0 to co-hosts Australia. There isn’t much to talk about from that game. The Matildas outplayed Canada. The defence was shaky and the attack was lifeless and tactically, it wasn’t good, at all.
Australia were without Sam Kerr, their all-time leading scorer but that wasn’t a problem for them on Monday.
There are a lot of words to describe Canada crashing out of the World Cup in the group stage. Disappointing, crushing, frustrating, shambolic, depressing and so much more are good words to use.
What makes things worse is that this is the final World Cup for Sophie Schmidt and captain Christine Sinclair. Sinclair, of course, was playing in her sixth World Cup and she has many trophies in her cabinet. Unfortunately, the cabinet is missing the big one. It is a crushing way for Canada’s best-ever player and international soccer’s all-time leading scorer’s final World Cup to end.
Sinclair and Schmidt have served their national team well but it is time for them to pass the torch. Jessie Fleming, Jordyn Huitema and Julia Grosso come to mind as they are in their early 20s and are the future of the team.
But it is safe to say they and pretty much every player on Canada underwhelmed in the tournament.
So…where does Canada go from there?
We can sit here and talk all day about what went wrong for Canada. The tactics, the formations, individual moments in certain games and so much more.
But this article is talking about what’s next.
With Schmidt and Sinclair in the twilight of their careers, can the next generation lead the way? How can they be better prepared for big games in the future?
Oh yeah, we can’t ignore the ongoing labour dispute between the Canadian Soccer Association and the players.
Sinclair was asked about that and the lack of preparation before the World Cup. Remember, Canada did not play any warm-up games in the weeks leading up to the World Cup. Their last game before the World Cup? April 13 which was a friendly against France.
Sinclair also called it a wake-up call for the federation. Despite the women being the more successful of the two sides, they haven’t been fairly paid and haven’t gotten support at the youth level. Sure, there are women’s teams in the League 1 Canada leagues and Project 8 is a plan launched by former Canadian player Diana Matheson to start a professional league. However, that is still years away, despite being a step in the right direction.
It’s been over a year, two World Cups and there is still no deal between the players and the CSA.
It is baffling that Canada didn’t get any tune-up games before the World Cup. Sure, those games don’t mean anything but those are dress rehearsals for the World Cup. The men got tune-up games but why didn’t the women? Unfortunately, the CSA’s incompetence showed.
On the pitch, you might be asking yourself if Bev Priestman is the right coach going forward for Canada. That is a good question. Any other federation would have let their coach go after a disappointing exit. However, given the CSA’s financial situation, could they afford to get a new coach? Probably not.
Sinclair is right. A women’s pro league in Canada is overdue and there needs to be more investment in youth and grassroots soccer for women.
Looking ahead for Canada, their next goal is to qualify for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. In September, Canada will play in the CONCACAF playoffs against Jamaica. The first leg is on September 18 and the second leg is on September 26.
Obviously, the players need to regroup and refocus and Priestman and the coaching staff have to reevaluate the squad and their tactics.
There are a lot of problems regarding the CSA but the team themselves are out of the World Cup earlier than expected. The old guard is close to retirement while the new generation should be ready to take over and be the main faces of the team. There is lots of work to be done for Canada’s women’s team on and off the pitch.
Going out in the group stage, especially in this fashion, really hurts.