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Priestman signs contract to remain Canadian women's coach through 2027 World Cup

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While the search for a general secretary and men's coach continues, Canada Soccer has locked up women's coach Bev Priestman through the 2027 FIFA Women's World Cup.

The 37-year-old Priestman, who took over the Canadian women on Nov. 1, 2020, was initially appointed "through the next quadrennial" and had been working on a rolling contract. Now she has a new, defined deal.

Priestman has a 28-9-10 record in 47 matches at Canada's helm and was a nominee for FIFA Women's Best Coach in 2021 and 2022. She succeeded Kenneth Heiner-Moller, who returned to his native Denmark.

The Canadian women, currently ranked 10th in the world, won Olympic gold in Tokyo under Priestman in August 2021.

Canada has won five of six since a disappointing showing at last summer's FIFA World Cup in Australia that saw it exit after the group stage. Priestman's team, which went 7-5-1 in 2023, has recorded three consecutive clean sheets and conceded just two goals since the World Cup.

"I’m delighted to commit to this team, a collection of world-class players, through to the FIFA 2027 Women’s World Cup," Priestman said in a Canada Soccer statement Thursday. "We closed out 2023 in an exciting fashion and I can’t wait to continue the journey with this incredible group.

"It is clear to me that the future is bright with the talent we have coming through our system, and I'm honoured to be leading our efforts in chasing even more success for this program and our country."

Next up is the CONCACAF W Gold Cup in February followed by the SheBelieves Cup in April, with both tournaments in the United States, as the Canadians prepare to defend their Olympic title this summer in Paris.

Priestman had signalled last month that she wanted to stay in the job, when asked about a report that she had contacted CF Montreal about its then-vacant coaching job.

"That's not true," she said emphatically after longtime captain Christine Sinclair's final match for Canada, a 1-0 friendly win over Australia in Vancouver on Dec. 5. "I absolutely love this team. And I'm actually trying to commit to the future, for the 2027 World Cup. Moments like tonight only remind you how special the people are in this team, not just as footballers. And I absolutely love them."

Canada Soccer has other vacancies to fill with Alyson Walker, citing "personal reasons," walking away recently before taking up the post of general secretary. The governing body had been waiting on the appointment of a general secretary before naming a permanent head coach to success John Herdman, who took over Toronto FC in October.

Former assistant coach Mauro Biello is currently interim men's coach — and a candidate for the permanent job.

Priestman spent five years with Canada Soccer in a variety of coaching roles before returning in June 2018 to her native England, where she served as coach of the England’s women’s under-18 side and assistant coach with the senior English women.

In her first go-round with Canada Soccer, Priestman served as director of its developmental EXCEL program and had stints as coach of the under-15, under-17 and under-20 women's sides. She was also an assistant coach to Herdman while he was in charge of the women's team.

Before that she spent 4 1/2 years with New Zealand Football, serving as head of football development before leaving in June 2013.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2024.