Marie-Yasmine Alidou may not be going to the CONCACAF W Gold Cup with the Canadian women’s national team, but she’s standing out in the UEFA Women’s Champions League this season in more ways than one.
Alidou’s stunning touch-and-finish winner for Benfica against Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 3 in December has been voted as the UWCL Goal of the Group Stage by fans.
Alidou’s fine chest control and bullet shot earned Benfica a 1-0 win against Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 3 that proved vital to them ultimately reaching their first-ever UWCL quarter-final.
Its significance transcended just the context of this season’s competition, too. It was the first-ever UWCL goal at the famed Estádio da Luz, the home of the Benfica men’s team, in front of a crowd of nearly 11,000, the largest ever to watch a Portuguese women’s side in the UWCL. The fact that Alidou crowned the occasion with such a stunning goal was not just the latest high point of her career but another landmark moment for Canadian women’s soccer.
The goal beat Chelsea striker Sam Kerr’s hat-trick-clinching lob to win the UEFA award.
Alidou has quite the personal highlight reel this season in the UWCL and beyond. The 28-year-old has a remarkable 20 goals in 28 games for Benfica this season and eight in nine UWCL matches, including a brace against Barcelona’s bejeweled team of world-class stars in the final group matchday last week. Her performances and goals have gone a long way in Benfica booking a first-ever UWCL last-eight spot, where she will come up against CanWNT teammate Vanessa Gilles and Lyon.
Unfortunately and more than a little surprisingly, Alidou and Gilles will not be in the US together this month for the Gold Cup. The attacking midfielder was arguably the biggest standout omission from CanWNT head coach Bev Priestman’s final 23-player roster for the tournament.
Alidou made her senior debut for Canada in February 2022 against Spain at the 2022 Arnold Clark Cup and she’s been in several more roster selections since then, including the preliminary roster for the 2023 World Cup this summer, the group for the Olympic qualifier play-off against Jamaica, and the fall friendlies that lowered the curtain on Christine Sinclair’s CanWNT career.
However, she’s not made the Gold Cup cut and the dark irony is that it’s Alidou’s attacking exploits that have actually partly led to her missing out.’the dark irony is that it’s Alidou’s attacking exploits that have actually partly led to her missing out.
Priestman feels Alidou wasn’t suited to slot into her group in the more attacking role she has been playing this season.
“I had an agreement with Mimi that she needs to be assessed in the position that she’s playing in at her club,” Priestman told Canadian media 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 … 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.”
However, Priestman did add that Alidou is at the top of her backup list should the injury bug bite any midfielders or attackers in the next couple of weeks.