The Westfield Matildas have a Quarter Final battle with Nadeshiko of Japan after the reigning World Champions defeated the Netherlands 2-1 in their Round of 16 match last night.
The rivalry between the two Asian heavyweights is set to be one of the most watched matches in SBS television coverage with the Matildas hoping to go one better than the last time the two sides met in the Asian Cup Final, which saw Japan defeat Australia 1-0.
The Westfield Matildas have the chance to go one better this time around, a chance to do what no other Australian senior team has done before and that is, make it into the Semi Finals of a World Cup.
Head Coach Alen Stajcic, who watched Japan overcome a tenacious Netherlands was upbeat about his team’s next encounter.
“We can beat Japan, but it’s going to be an incredibly tough match,” Stajcic said.
“They’re passing and movement off the ball is probably the best of any team at the World Cup, so we’ve got a big assignment on our hands – the current World Champions are a very good team”.
Japan have had a relatively easy run to the Quarter Finals defeating Cameroon, Switzerland and Ecuador and this may be beneficial to them as we approach the business end of the tournament.
“We’ve grown a lot…on and off the field, and it just gives us great belief that we can match it with the world champions and if we play to our potential we can certainly beat them this time around,” said Stajcic.
After the interview with Matilda’s star Sam Kerr it seems that matches against heavyweights USA, Sweden, Brazil may have taken their toll, but Stajcic disagrees.
“I think the biggest thing we’ve learnt is the belief we have in the team, I think if we play to our potential we can match it with the world champions,” Stajcic said.
Westfield Matildas v Japan, Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, Kick-Off 6:00am AEST Sunday 28 June
By Paul Brown