Canada secures spot in Olympic Semi-Finals with 1:0 win over France
Canada remained perfect at the Rio 2016 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament with a 1:0 win over France, the third-ranked nation in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings. The win continues Canada’s remarkable momentum in Brazil as they secured a spot in the 16 August Semi-Finals. Sophie Schmidt scored the lone goal in Canada’s fourth-straight win at Rio 2016, converting her volley from the back post after a beautiful play by Janine Beckie on the right side.
From São Paulo, Canada will head to Belo Horizonte to face Germany in the Semi-Finals on Tuesday 16 August at 16.00 local. It will be their second meeting in a week, with Canada winning the group finale on 9 August. The Rio 2016 Semifinals match will be broadcast live in Canada at 15.00 ET / 12.00 PT on 16 August (broadcast details to be published at olympics.cbc.ca).
“We are so excited right now, this is such a great feeling,” said Stephanie Labbé after posting her second clean sheet of the tournament. “Definitely, we are here to go all the way. After tonight, we are already on to the next task because we know what Germany can bring. There’s a lot on the line: we’re playing for a gold medal.”
The Rio 2016 Quarter-Finals was the fourth-straight Canada-France match separated by one or fewer goals, with Canada winning at London 2012 and Rio 2016. The two sides were also separated last year in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ rankings, with France fifth and Canada sixth.
“We showed that Canadian grit again,” said John Herdman, Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team Head Coach. “That’s what takes teams through tournaments. Our whole team defensively was very disciplined and then we had our moment of quality as Sophie Schmidt’s goal was outstanding.
“It was just another real team performance. I am just proud of what we are showing as we are off to the medal rounds, but we are not done yet.”
On this night, it was Canada’s destiny after Shelina Zadorsky delivered her pass down field for the Janine Beckie. Beckie took a touch both outside and inside the box to outplay Sakina Karchaoui before crossing a pass to the back post for Sophie Schmidt to deftly smash into the net.
From there, Canada stood strong until the final whistle to hold the 1:0 victory and advance to a rematch with Germany. In the group phase, Canada defeated both the Asian champions Australia and the European champions Germany to finish first in their group.
“We are thrilled to knock off a team that I think could be the best team in the world right now,” said Christine Sinclair after the victory. “We have this never-say-die attitude and I think you have seen that throughout the course of this tournament.”
Also on Friday, Sweden won 4-3 on kicks after a 1:1 draw with USA and Germany won 1:0 over China PR.
This marks the second consecutive major tournament in which Canada have finished first in group play. At the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, Canada won their group and finished sixth overall in front of record-setting crowds on home soil. At Rio 2016, Canada won their group again, this time finishing perfect with nine points for the first time in their history. With their win against France, they are the only nation with four straight wins at either the Men’s or Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Brazil..
This marks Canada’s third consecutive participation at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament. Four years ago at London 2012, Canada won a historic bronze medal, the nation’s first in a summer team sport since 1936.
The Rio 2016 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament runs 3-19 August in six venues (seven stadiums) across Brazil. Following the group phase, the Quarter-Finals are 12 August, the Semi-Finals are 16 August, and both the bronze and gold medal matches are 19 August. Support for #CanadaRED has been tremendous both before and during the Olympic Games, with complete coverage at CanadaSoccer.com. Since the opening match on 3 August, fans have watched every game live on Canadian television and followed #CANWNT across multiple digital and social networks including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.
Canada are the only one of four Olympic semi-finalists returning for a chance to win a medal four years after winning a bronze medal at the London 2012 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament.
When Canada faces Germany on Tuesday 16 August, it will be for a spot in the Rio 2016 gold medal game. The Olympic semi-finals match kicks off at 16.00 local in Belo Horizonte, with a live broadcast back in Canada at 15.00 ET / 12.00 PT (broadcast details to be published at Olympics.cbc.ca).
Four years ago, Canada finished third ahead of France, with USA first and Japan second. At Rio 2016, Canada eliminated France 1:0 in the quarter-finals, while Sweden eliminated USA on kicks from the penalty mark also in the quarter-finals. Japan, meanwhile, were eliminated in the Asian qualifiers.
“We didn’t come here to beat France in the quarter-finals, we came here to get on the podium,” said Christine Sinclair.
Sinclair believes France are perhaps the best team in the world right now, but she and her teammates believe Canada possess the best defence of any nation at the moment. Canada will need to be at their best once again when they face European champions Germany for the second time in the tournament.
“It’s going to be tough to play Germany again, one of the best teams in the world, but we have everything we need in this group of players,” said Janine Beckie. “We have one of the best defensive teams in the world.”
Along with an outstanding defensive line that includes last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup Best Young Player Kadeisha Buchanan, Canada have goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé as their last line of defence. With Friday’s 1:0 win over France, she tied Erin McLeod’s team record with two clean sheets at an Olympic Tournament.
“We are on a roll, but at the same time we have such a high belief in ourselves,” said Labbé. “We know that we can come up against any team in the world right now.
“It is going to be exciting against Germany, definitely a different game from last time because there is a lot on the line. Both teams are coming out looking for a spot in that final game for a chance to go for a gold medal. We know what we have to bring and how to come out and beat the Germans.”
With four wins at Rio 2016, Canada have now posted a record of 14 wins and four losses in 18 international matches this calendar year. Since finishing sixth at last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, Canada have posted a record of 16-0-6 in 22 matches, including a second-place finish at the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Football Qualifiers and a first-place finish at the Algarve Cup.
They also finished first in their group at Rio 2016 with nine points. They remain the only perfect soccer team in Brazil from 16 men’s and 12 women’s teams at the Olympic Football Tournaments.
“The team have been growing since we brought them back together in November,” said John Herdman, Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team Head Coach. “We made some bold changes after the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015, but the veterans have embraced the young kids and the young kids have embraced the veterans. There’s a special little chemistry, they have formed, something that you see now on the pitch.
“Game after game, they keep showing something that tells you that we may be able to do this.”