Canada will face the Olympic hosts and 2011 Women’s World Cup champions Japan in the opening match of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament this summer.
During the tournament draw held at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, the Canadians learned Wednesday that they will face Japan, Great Britain and Chile in the group phase in July.
Canada will kick off its Summer Games journey when it faces Japan in Sapporo on July 21 at 6:30 a.m. ET). The Maple Leafs will meet Chile July 24 at 3:30 a.m. ET, before wrapping up the group phase against Great Britain in Kashima on July 27 at 7 p.m. ET.
From 12 nations in three groups, the top eight nations advance to the quarterfinals from which the winners move onto the semifinals and an opportunity to win a medal. The tournament runs from July 1` through Aug. 6 with the gold-mdeal match at Tokyo Stadium.
“I’m excited, the players are excited and we are ready to ramp up our preparations further to achieve our goals,” Canada head coach Bev Priestman said in a statement. “There is no easy opponent in a Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, but we will do everything in our power to make Canada proud. With hard work, the right mindset and a strong belief in our individual and collective ability, Canada can give any team a really difficult game and ultimately succeed in an Olympic Games.”
This will be the 15th international meeting between Canada and Japan since they first met on May 5, 1995 in Tokyo. The two sides have traded wins in their last two meetings, with Canada the winners in 2018 at the Algarve Cup in Portugal and Japan the winners in 2019 in Shizuoka. Canada and Japan most recently reached the Round of 16 at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Japan captured the 2011 Women’s World Cup title and was and silver medal winners at the London 2012 Olympic Games and 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Canada and Chile have faced each other once before at the international “A” level. Chile, participating in its first Olympic tournament, defeated Canada, 1-0, at the Torneio Internacional in Brazil in 2013.
The Maple Leafs and Great Britain faced each other once before at the 2012 Olympic Games, with Canada eliminating the hosts behind a 2-0 quarterfinals victory. Great Britain will feature players from England, Scotland and Wales, with notably England third- and fourth-place finishers at the past two Women’s World Cups. Earlier this month, Canada won two away international “A” matches against Wales (3-0 on April 9) and England (2-0 on April 13).
Canada is one of five nations in the world that have qualified for each of the past four Women’s Olympic tournaments. The Canadians also are the only nation in the world to reach the podium at London 2012 and Rio 2016 in women’s soccer.