After an impressive 2015 World Cup campaign, the Matildas now prepare themselves for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games qualifiers in February.
The Matildas shocked many to become the first Australian senior team to make it through a knockout match at a World Cup and Coach Alen Stajcic believes they can do better this time and so does the Australian public.
After a very impressive 2015 World Cup performance where they sent contenders Brazil packing and narrowly missed out on a finals berth losing to Japan 1-0 in the quarter-finals in June. Stajcic believes that his positive style of football and the belief he has built in the squad will see them through.
With six countries vying for the two spots available in Rio, Australia is the third highest ranked team (9th) and it will be no easy task to get over Japan ranked 4th and DPR Korea ranked 6th, so it seems, but the Matildas have proven that on the day they can mix it with the best and their 2015 winning record is proof of that.
The Matildas will play five matches in ten days with an opening match against Japan on the 29th February, but as Stajcic has proven before, he has enough depth in the team to make it work. The Matildas have faced this type of schedule before and their tenacity and character will be on show.
"We've played them (Japan) three times in the last 18 months and those results were a draw and two narrow losses so we know we're in the ball park to match them, we've just got to do it on the day, said Stajcic.
Japan recently held a six day training camp in the Netherlands culminating in an international friendly against the home side, going down 3-0. Japanese coach Norio Sasaki used the event to trial a number of young players, but will field 15 of the 20 World Cup runner up players for the qualifiers.
The Matildas recently defeated Korea Republic 1-0, but earlier in the year went down to England 1-0 and they will not have the benefit of the massive tournament preparation and friendly matches that they had prior to the World Cup and must suffice with five training camps prior to departure.
“In Korea we definitely got back to the levels of the World Cup so it’s up to us to push on ahead” said Stajcic.
The squad departs for Osaka, Japan on the 22nd February and start their campaign on the 29th with follow up matches against Vietnam on the 2nd March, Korea Republic 4th March, DPR Korea 7th March and China 9th March.
Matildas Squad vs Korea: