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CanWNT Gets Ready to Play in Inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup

CanWNT Gets Ready With Defender, Vanessa Gilles

The CanWNT gets ready to play in the very first Concacaf W Gold Cup tourney. This will be the first-ever tournament of this kind in women’s soccer. Also, with many CONMEBOL teams involved, it proves to be a very competitive tournament. They will compete in Group C of the tournament with Costa Rica, Paraguay, and El Salvador. The Canadians are ranked tenth in the world.

FIFA Rankings are based on the latest rankings revealed by FIFA on December 15.

CanWNT Gets Ready For Group Action in the Concacaf W Gold Cup

Costa Rica (43rd Ranked)

Qualification to the Concacaf W Gold Cup

Costa Rica was in League A of the Concacaf Nations League in Group C. They were put in a group with Haiti and Saint Kitts and Nevis. The battle for the top of the group was between Costa Rica and Haiti. Haiti beat Costa Rica 1-0 thanks to a goal by Nérilia Mondésir on September 21, 2023 at Estadio Olímpico Félix Sánchez, Santo Domingo (counted as a Haiti home game). This meant that Costa Rica needed to beat Haiti on November 30, 2023, if they wanted to finish at the top of the group.

It looked like Costa Rica would not finish top of the group as when stoppage time came, both teams were tied 1-1 at Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto in Alajuela, Costa Rica. This was until Alexa Herrera scored the game-winning goal in the 90+8-minute of play. This goal meant that the Costa Ricans will qualify for the Concacaf W Gold Cup as they finished top of the group with a better goal differential than Haiti.

Players for the Team

The name that pops up is Angel City’s Raquel Rodríguez. She is the only NWSL player on the Costa Rican roster and has a history of playing in professional sports in the NWSL, as she also made her mark with Sky Blue FC from 2016-19 as she had eight goals in 76 appearances. Also, with the Portland Thorns FC, she had six goals in 56 appearances from 2020-23.

Accolades for her includes winning the NWSL Rookie of the Year award back in 2016. She also won many team accomplishments with Portland including winning the 2020 NWSL Community Shield, the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup, International Champions Cup, and the NWSL Shield, as well as the 2022 NWSL Championship.

She has also made a name for herself with the national team since 2010, as she has 43 goals in 73 appearances, including scoring at least a goal every year since 2018 for La Sele. This included playing a key role in getting wins over the Philippines and Poland in FIFA international friendlies. Rodríguez also scored one goal against Canada, coming in a 3-1 loss against the Canadians.


READ MORE: Canadian women are heading to Tokyo with win over Costa Rica

Both teams have faced each other 11 times, with Canada winning 10 of those meetings. The most memorable game was the Olympic qualifying game for Tokyo 2020. This was where the CanWNT won 1-0 thanks to a game-winning goal by Jordyn Huitema. This allowed Canada to make the Summer Olympics in Tokyo 2020, where they would win Gold.

The only time Costa Rica defeated the Canadians was back in the 2015 Women’s Pan Am Games, where they won 3-1 over Canada. Since then, Canada has won six games in a row against La Sele.

Paraguay (50th ranked)

The nation, nicknamed the Las Guaraníes or the La Albirroja, is one of four guest teams to participate from the CONMEBOL region. The team made the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup by finishing second in the 2022 Copa América Femenina Group A. After a loss to Colombia, they won three straight games. This included a pivotal 3-2 win over Chile, which played a big part in the qualification for the Concacaf W Gold Cup. They would finish fourth overall in the 2022 Copa América Femenina Group A competition.

The team has quite a few players playing in the Spanish league and also in the Liga MX Femenil. Jessica Martínez, who currently plays for FC Levante Las Planas in Spain, is a player to watch. She has played 23 games for her country and has already scored 19 goals. Her most notable game was scoring a hat-trick for her team in the 2023 Pan American Games against Jamaica.

This competition will mark the first-ever time Paraguay has faced Canada as both the teams will play each other for the very first time on February 25.

El Salvador (104th ranked)

El Salvador, nicknamed the La Selecta, qualified for the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup on Saturday. It was a one-off game against Guatemala to see who would become the fourth entrant in Group C of the Concacaf W Gold Cup. They would win that game 3-1. To qualify for that one-off game, El Salvador had to finish first in their League B group, which they did with flying colours.

A player to watch with La Selecta is Brenda Cerén, she has scored 10 goals in only 16 appearances for her team. This included scoring a hat-trick in the pivotal game against Guatemala. This is what Inside World Football said about Cerén’s performance against Guatemala:

“El Salvador’s Brenda Cerén stamped herself indelibly on the match in the first half. A constant bustling presence in attack she scored twice and could have had a couple more as El Salvador wasted no time in taking a grip of the game.”

Strangely enough, even though both Canada and El Salvador both belong to Concacaf, their senior teams have never faced other. Thursday will be the first-ever meeting between these two teams.

Verdict on Group and Where The CanWNT Will Finish

Canada probably has the easiest group in the Concacaf W Gold Cup competition. However, that does not mean that Canada should take any of these teams lightly. Paraguay, even though they are ranked lower than Costa Rica, might be the toughest opponent for Canada as they have a number of players playing professionally in Spain and also one player playing professionally in Mexico. The problem with Paraguay though might be the team chemistry, as most of these players are just starting to play for the national team. There are also some players injured like Jayde Riviere for example.

This is what Priestman said about Marie-Yasmine Alidou, who was always likely to make the roster if Riviere got injured (source: Brendan Dunlop of Canadian Soccer Daily):

“We’re obviously tracking Mimi and if she comes in with us it’s going to be in that position with a backup role in midfield, based on the way we’ve been playing.”

READ MORE: The CanWNT Concacaf W Gold Cup Roster Revealed

Costa Rica is probably the only team Canada is familiar with. They do have a player playing in the NWSL, but do not have the talent at least on paper to compete with Canada. As for El Salvador, it is a great story to have them in the Concacaf W Gold Cup, however, they are likely to struggle against not just Canada, but also against Costa Rica and Paraguay as well.

Prediction: CanWNT Makes the Concacaf W Gold Cup Final

READ MORE: Christine Sinclair And What She Meant For The CanWNT

The four likely teams that can win the tournament are the CanWNT, USWNT (ranked second), Brazil (ranked 11th), and Colombia (ranked 23rd). Canada is also the second-highest ranked team in the tournament. A big problem though for them is filling the shoes of Sophie Schmidt and Christine Sinclair. Saying that, Canada has been in good form lately, and could make the finals of this inaugural competition. The Canadians are also familiar with both USA and Brazil, which may help them in this competition.

How to Watch the Games

All the games are taking place in Houston, Texas at Shell Energy Stadium and will also be shown on OneSoccer, Telus, and FuboTV Inc. The first game will be against El Salvador on February 22 at 8:00 PM ET. Then in the afternoon at 5:00 PM ET on February 25, they will face Paraguay, before finishing off the group stage part of the tournament against Costa Rica on February 28 at 6:00 PM ET.


Photo Credit: Canada Soccer EN X Account and the Canada Soccer FR X Account on December 1, 2023.


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