The Canadian women’s soccer team is looking to hoist the Algarve Cup for the second time in four years when the annual competition kicks off this week in Portugal.
Canada last won the tournament in 2016 when Shelina Zadorsky and Janine Beckie found the back of the net in the 2-1 final victory versus Brazil. Sixteen members of that winning team are part of this year’s roster.
Headlining Group A, Canada will face Iceland on Feb. 27, followed by a meeting versus Scotland on March 1 in round-robin action.
This marks the team’s final tournament ahead of this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, giving coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller and his staff another opportunity to evaluate his side versus decent opponents.
Here’s a closer look at Canada and the Algarve Cup throughout the years:
3 — Top four finishes for the Canadians at the Algarve Cup. Canada won the championship in 2016, finished second a year later and ended up in fourth back in 2001. Canada went through a stretch (2004 to 2015) of not playing in the invitational, instead taking part in the Cyprus Cup. Once the SheBelieves Cup, hosted by the U.S.A., came into inception in 2016, Canada returned to Portugal for the Algarve Cup.
7 — Most goals scored by a player at the tournament. American Shannon MacMillan scored seven times in 2002, while Germany’s Inka Grings hit that mark eight years later.
8 — This marks Canada’s eighth appearance at the Algarve Cup, with a record of 16 wins, three draws and nine losses. Canada has scored 50 goals while conceding 35.
12 — Number of teams taking part in this year’s tournament. Canada is the top-ranked side at fifth in the world, followed by the Netherlands, at seventh. Coincidentally, the nations will meet in Group E play at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The other two teams in the group, New Zealand and Cameroon, are not in Portugal.
16 — Christine Sinclair, who will be suiting up in her seventh edition of the Algarve Cup, was just 16 when she debuted at the competition. She scored three goals, as Canada finished fifth. In total, she’s scored 17 times at the tournament since 2000.
20 — The last time goalkeeper Erin McLeod played in the Algarve Cup, she was 20 years old. She has a record of three wins and one loss, including a 4-0 clean sheet in 2002 against Scotland.
23 — There are seven 23-year-olds on the Canadian roster (Kadeisha Buchanan, Rebecca Quinn, Ashley Lawrence, Nichelle Prince, Kailen Sheridan, Lindsay Agnew, Jenna Hellstrom). While it’s normally just a unique observation, it’s an indication of the developing core as the veterans move on. It’s also a nod to the importance of the group that played at the 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup, which has developed the most senior players since the 2002 U-19/U-20 roster.
26 — This is the 26th edition of the Algarve Cup, with the Americans winning it a record 10 times. Other than the hosts, Portugal, the only other nation to take part every year is Denmark, with 12 top-four finishes, but never first place.
26.16 — Average age of Canada’s roster. The youngest player is 17-year-old Jordyn Huitema, who has already made 16 appearances for the senior side, scoring three times. The striker recently made the decision to forgo college and play professionally after finishing high school in May, joining fellow Canadian Ashley Lawrence at Paris Saint-Germain.
178 — Sinclair, a 35-year-old native of Burnaby, has 178 goals in 275 appearances for Canada. She currently ranks second in all-time scoring in the international women’s game, behind retired American forward Abby Wambach (184 goals). The Canadian captain has scored an average of 0.66 goals per match over her decorated career.
1994 — The year of the first Algarve Cup. Six teams took part across seven venues with Norway winning the inaugural tournament. Just two federations were represented: UEFA and CONCACAF. Starting in 2002, 12 teams were invited to take part.
2016 — Canada’s tournament win in 2016 saw centre-back Kadeisha Buchanan earn top player honours, while striker Janine Beckie led the way in scoring with two goals, including the game-winner in the final versus Brazil. The Canadians captured the title despite losing the tournament opener versus Denmark.