Belief growing as Westfield Matildas target Rio medal

Westfield Matildas coach Alen Stajcic has embraced the challenge of winning a medal at the Rio Games and is convinced his players believe they are "a real force on the world stage".

Australia's women's team achieved a best-ever ranking in FIFA's standings earlier this year when they moved up to fifth following their unbeaten qualifying campaign for Rio 2016, plus a run to the quarter-finals at the 2015 Women's World Cup.

Westfield Matildas, Socceroos in Melbourne double header

According to Stajcic, two matches in the past year have helped the Matildas rid themselves of an underdog mentality.

The 42-year-old was thrilled with the way his team played in the first half of their World Cup opener against eventual champions United States even though they went on to lose 3-1.

In February, the Matildas took another step when they began their Olympic qualifying run with a 3-1 triumph over World Cup finalists Japan.

Michelle Heyman runs off to celebrate her goal in the game against Japan on Monday night.

"Deep down [the game against USA] gave the players a lot of belief that they can be a competitor on the world stage - and a real competitor," Stajcic said in Melbourne on Tuesday.

"We were ranked 10 but I think inside the players' minds before that match, they thought they were a few steps behind those top countries… I think after that match it really turned the corner inside the players' hearts and minds that they can be a true force on the world stage, and I think we've showed that against Japan."

Stajcic added: "We've achieved our best ranking now but a ranking's just on paper. We want some hard medals now to back up that we're one of the best teams in the world."

The Matildas will head to Brazil on the back of double-header with the Socceroos on June 7 in Melbourne, with Stajcic's side set to play fellow Olympic qualifiers New Zealand at Etihad Stadium before Ange Postecoglou's men's team face Greece.

A lot has been made of the Socceroos' transformation under Postecoglou but Matildas co-captain Lisa De Vanna believes her team plays a comparative attacking style under Stajcic.

The Aussies celebrate Lisa De Vanna's first-half equaliser which saw her join an elite club of players to have scored at three World Cups.

De Vanna argued that Stajcic and Postecoglou have a similar "philosophy" about football, and after 12 years representing her country, the veteran striker is finally convinced the Matildas have the mentality to win an Olympic medal.

"I've always dreamt of that day… and that tournament in Japan was the perfect example of heart and soul," she said.

"I can't remember ever in my career, and I've been in this team a very long time, that I walked away and go 'oh my God. This is what football's about, this is why we play the game - that's why we play with so much heart and love for the country' and it gave me goose bumps every time we went out on the field."

The Matildas have been drawn with Germany, Canada and Zimbabwe for the women's football tournament in Rio, with the Games to be held in August.