Reigning Julie Dolan Medallist Tameka Butt has been forced to endure a frustrating opening to her 2014 Asian Cup campaign.
Reigning Julie Dolan Medallist Tameka Butt has been forced to endure a frustrating opening to her 2014 Asian Cup, but she is optimistic about lining up in Sunday night-s pivotal game against Vietnam.
So far Butt-s AFC Women-s Asian Cup campaign has comprised of just over a handful of minutes of game time which came in the latter stage of the Westfield Matildas- opening match of the tournament against Japan.
A niggling ankle injury she suffered in the Westfield Matildas- win over Brazil in Brisbane back on April 9 hampered her preparations for the Asian Cup, restricting her training workload in the weeks leading up to the tournament.
After coming through her cameo against Japan unscathed, Butt copped a knock to her troublesome ankle the following day at training, Matildas Interim Head Coach Alen Stajcic resisting the temptation of taking the risk and playing her against Jordan.
But heading into Sunday night-s crucial group game against host nation Vietnam with a spot at next year-s World Cup and a place in the Asian Cup Semi Finals riding on the outcome, Butt completed the training session on the eve of the match, signalling she is putting her hand up to be included.
“I completed training and everything has pulled up fine so looking good for tomorrow,” Butt told media after the session.
Asked if she was concerned by a lack of match conditioning at this stage of the tournament, Butt was uncertain but confident she has enough in the tank to get through and make an impact.
“It really depends on fitness as well, whether fatigue will start to hurt my ankle or anything, but with the base fitness that I have hopefully that-ll be enough,” Butt said.
“I was pretty frustrated even before I left the field against Brazil just knowing it (the injury) could potentially put me out, but I-m just happy to be over here and training with the girls, and any game time from now is a plus.”
If as expected Butt does play against Vietnam, she is unlikely to have the luxury of being able to have time to warm herself into the contest. The race for the all-important top two positions in delicately poised in Group A going into the final group games.
Japan are favoured to progress as they take on bottom placed Jordan, while the Westfield Matildas need a win or a draw against a plucky Vietnam to be the other team to move through to the Semi Finals and receive automatic entry to the FIFA 2015 Women-s World Cup. But Butt knows achieving this is easier said than done, as Vietnam will be riding a wave of emotion and support from their fans as they aim to qualify for the World Cup for the first time.
With so much to play for, Butt is unsure what approach Vietnam will take into the game, but she is confident the Matildas can keep their title defence alive.
“I think it will be a different game than what we-re used to playing against them (Vietnam),” Butt said.
“Whether they-re going to try to counter attack and park the bus, or whether they try to put a lot of pressure on us in our final third…so it will be interesting and I think the first ten minutes of the game will tell a lot.”
Kick-Off is at 10.15pm AEST and will be shown LIVE & exclusive on Fox Sports 2 and 2HD.