While it will still take Canadian fans some time to get used to not seeing Christine Sinclair’s name on the roster, one standout omission from Wednesday’s W Gold Cup announcement left CanWNT hardcores puzzled.
Marie-Yasmine Alidou has been a force in her first season at Portuguese giants Benfica. The 28-year-old has filled the shoes left empty by the departure of fellow Canadian Cloé Lacasse, scoring 20 goals in 28 appearances across all competitions. She’s been a UEFA Women’s Champions League superstar, netting eight goals in nine UWCL games.
But playing in a more advanced attacking role than she has for Canada, head coach Bev Priestman feels Alidou wasn’t suited to slot into this CanWNT squad.
“I had an agreement with Mimi that she needs to be assessed in the position that she’s playing at at her club, and as you can see in this 23 [-player CanWNT squad], there’s a lot of players in that front-three position,” Priestman told Canadian media members on a Canada Soccer Zoom call on Wednesday.
“Mimi’s been with us regularly in the midfield and she did a great job for us. But for Mimi now, we need to assess her in that position … but I think there’s a reality in that way that we’re playing in the midfield positions in what we need is different to what maybe Mimi brings when she’s looked at as a midfielder. So, I think it’s just the overall depth in that front line and what she’s doing versus the players that we have in.”
Related read: Canada head coach Bev Priestman names CanWNT’s final roster for this month’s CONCACAF W Gold Cup
Priestman selected seven designated forwards, eight if you include midfielder Olivia Smith who has also been banging in the goals in Portugal. NWSL-based forwards Jordyn Huitema and Nichelle Prince and Sweden-based Clarissa Larisey are currently out of season and will get a longer camp than Lacasse, Aston Villa’s Adriana Leon, Leicester City’s Deanne Rose, and Roma’s Evelyne Viens.
Of course, there’s always the chance that one of those players won’t be available by the time the tournament kicks off and Priestman did add that if there was an injury that Alidou is at the top of her call list.
“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.”
Canada will kick off their W Gold Cup campaign in just over two weeks’ time, on February 22 against a still to be determined opponent. The preliminary rounds will finish up on on February 17.