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2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup

Bev Priestman looks to integrate youth as Canada prepares to defend gold in Paris

Can the next generation of Canadian footballers earn their spots on a limited, 18-player Olympic roster?

Bev Priestman
Photo Copyright Anne-Marie Sorvin for USA TODAY Sports

As the reigning Olympic champions prepare to defend gold in Paris this summer, they’re at a crossroads. Canadian national team manager Bev Priestman already has the next generation of footballers knocking on her door. But can they earn their spots on a limited, 18-player roster?

“The 18-player roster for the Olympics really hampers you in some ways,” Priestman explained to The Equalizer ahead of the 2024 Gold Cup. “If you take a 23-player roster then you’ve got three or four roster spots that you’re really investing in for the future. I think with an 18-player roster it’s very much about the now. What I am pleased to say is we’ve got some very young players that are performing and that helps.”

Midfielders Simi Awujo, Olivia Smith, and centerback Jade Rose are three players Priestman is really high on as part of that next wave. Awujo and Smith were on Canada’s roster at the 2023 World Cup. Rose was forced to withdraw due to an injury. 

“You talk about the under-20s going to a World Cup,” Priestman said. “We had Simi and Jade. It’s really staying aligned with the pipeline and bringing in players where we can for training camps when it’s not so tournament-focused. I do know after the Olympics it’s very much about casting the net a bit wider to invest in terms of cap accumulation and getting to understand the way that we work.” 

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