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Canada motivated to make up for World Cup disappointment in Olympic qualifying

Canada will face Jamaica in Olympic qualifying, eager to make up for their shocking early exit from the Women’s World Cup and intent on getting back to the Games to defend their gold medal, coach Bev Priestman said.

The Tokyo Olympic champions face Jamaica on Sept. 22 in Kingston and on Sept. 26 in Toronto in a winner-takes-all Olympic qualifying series.

“Motivated because we obviously want to put the wrong right, but also motivated because you know how dear the Olympic Games is to this group’s heart,” Priestman said on a video call with reporters on Friday.

The team’s World Cup post-mortem she said included individual meetings with each player and a team reset meeting.

“(And then) I went to Fiji for five days, and what I learned in that moment is it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, I could have been sat in my office, it still sucked,” said the native of Consett, England.

“We have to turn the page, we can’t go into camp unpacking the World Cup, and so we did that.”

Canada are unbeaten in nine games against Jamaica, although the Reggae Girlz reached the round of 16 at the World Cup while Canada were knocked out in the opening round after a 0-0 draw with Nigeria, 2-1 win over Ireland and 4-0 loss to Australia.

Priestman’s squad announced on Friday features 21 of the 23 players from the World Cup group. Sophie Schmidt is the notable absence, having retired after the tournament a few weeks ago in Australia.

Women’s soccer has been rocked since the World Cup after Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales planted a kiss on the lips of player Jenni Hermoso following Spain’s 1-0 victory over England in the final.

Priestman said the incident and its fallout have robbed Spain’s players of a once-in-a-lifetime moment.

“Spain with an incredible team, incredible talent, they didn’t even have all of the talent there, and that one moment that not many people in the world get to experience which is winning the World Cup, to have that overshadowed, from the minute it happened to even now, I’m devastated for the players,” Priestman said.

“It should be the height of their career, but it probably unearths some problems that still are there in the women’s game. And so yeah, devastated that moment got overshadowed, but I hope it’s going to be the start of some systemic change that needs to happen.”

Canada squad:

Goalkeepers: Sabrina D’Angelo, Lysianne Proulx, Kailen Sheridan.

Defenders: Kadeisha Buchanan, Gabrielle Carle, Sydney Collins, Vanessa Gilles, Ashley Lawrence, Jayde Riviere, Bianca St-Georges, Jade Rose, Shelina Zadorsky.

Midfielders: Marie-Yasmine Alidou D’Anjou, Simi Awujo, Jessie Fleming, Julia Grosso, Quinn.

Midfielder-Forward: Olivia Smith.

Forwards: Jordyn Huitema, Cloe Lacasse, Adriana Leon, Nichelle Prince, Deanne Rose, Christine Sinclair, Evelyne Viens. REUTERS

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