Canada needs to improve in front of goal as they prepare for the Tokyo Olympics, according to women’s head coach Bev Priestman.
The Canadian women last competed together at last month’s four-team SheBelieves Cup in Florida. They finished in third place behind USA and Brazil and ahead of Argentina – scoring only one goal in three games.
Priestman acknowledges the lack of goals was disappointing, but she says she found a silver lining after analyzing some of the post-tournament numbers.
“In creating chances, we were in much better positions than historically against those teams the past couple of years,” said Priestman to reporters last week. “But ultimately it is about putting that ball in the back of the net.
“That’s the next level,” Priestman continued. “That ruthless streak. We have to be ruthless in both boxes – stopping goals but also scoring them.”
Canada playing Wales and England in friendlies
Canada faces Wales and England on April 9 and April 13 in a pair of friendlies this week in more pre-Olympic preparations.
And Canada’s goal scoring prospects may improve with the players coming in, who missed the previous camp. But Priestman wants her goal scorers to hone their skills at club level in-between international camps so they show up already sharp for Canada.
“I challenged the group now away from camp,” said Priestman. “You don’t develop in them areas on-camp. You need to turn up ready. And I think a lot of the players from what I understand, have gone away from the SheBeleives (Cup) and they’re doing extras in there club to get that confidence of putting the ball in the back of the net.”
Sinclair returns from injury
Priestman’s squad for the two upcoming friendlies has some big names who didn’t play at the SheBelieves Cup, including top goal scorer Christine Sinclair, who missed the tournament due to injury.
“I’m excited to have her in,” said Priestman of Sinclair. “I think she’ll bring a presence that the group will only excel in.”
But Priestman is adamant Canada can’t place all the goal scoring responsibilities on the 37-year-old striker.
“We can’t all assume that Christine’s back and all of a sudden Canada’s going to solve the problem of putting the ball in the back of the net,” said Priestman. “It absolutely needs to be the wider group. That could be from set plays and centre backs scoring right the way through to Christine in the number nine position.
“It has to be more than Christine. There’s a reality of Olympic games being back to back to back to back. We have to go beyond Christine to find them goals. And the group know that and we’re working towards it.”