The Westfield Matildas will be aiming to finish their 2016 Olympic qualifying tournament with a 100 per cent record when they take on China P.R. in their final match tonight.
Having secured their place at the Rio Olympics following a spirited and emotionally charged win over DPR Korea on Monday, their fourth straight win at the tournament, a victory against China P.R. tonight would cap off a memorable 10 days for the Westfield Matildas.
The Westfield Matildas’ match against China P.R. will be shown LIVE on 7mate (kick-off 9.35pm AEDT).
Westfield Matildas Head Coach Alen Stajcic says tonight’s encounter becomes the first important step in preparation for Rio despite the fact the Westfield Matildas and China P.R. are both assured a place at the Olympics as they cannot be displaced from the top two positions in the standings despite the results of today’s last three matches.
“We need to boost the talent and depth of our player pool for Rio so this game is certainly important and gives a chance for players to show what they’re capable of and put their hand up to be part of the squad at the Olympics,” said Stajcic.
“Prior to this tournament we said as a team that regardless of what happened here, we would do our utmost to win every game so that will be no different against China despite the fact we have already qualified.”
“We are taking this game just as seriously as the other four. We want to win tonight and finish on top of the table.”
Stajcic is set to make a number of changes to his side for tonight’s clash against the only other undefeated team in the tournament with 15 year old Ellie Carpenter to start her second match, while defender Alanna Kennedy and midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight are likely to be given a well earned rest on the bench.
Defender Steph Catley has played all but 45 minutes of the Westfield Matildas’ four matches in the tournament to date and is again set to start against China P.R. tonight.
The 22 year old left back, who is already edging towards 50 international appearances, has been an integral part of an Australian side that has conceded just two goals in the four matches.
Catley says the Westfield Matildas are determined to claim another big scalp and end the tournament with an unblemished record.
“We’ve got to win tonight to win the tournament. We’re four from four and we want to be five from five,” said Catley.
“We’ve been playing some really good football so we want to continue that and this is the first game of our preparations leading into the Olympics.”
Catley admits being able to back up after the elation of qualifying on Monday night was a challenge the team faced heading into the match against China.
“There are a lot of challenges surrounding this game and celebrating and coming down from a high before a tournament is finished is definitely one of them,” said Catley.
“We had our little moment where we celebrated and could be really excited about what we’ve achieved but now we’ve been preparing, doing our homework on China and getting straight back into tournament mode.
“We’re really switched on for this game and want to get the win and stay undefeated.”
China P.R. booked their place in Rio courtesy of three wins and a draw to prove they are now also one of the leading teams in Asia.
Westfield Matildas v China P.R.
Wednesday 9 March 2016
Yanmar Stadium Nagai, Osaka
Kick-Off: 7:35pm local time (9:35pm AEDT)
LIVE nationally 9:30pm AEDT on 7mate (LIVE stream: 7Live.com.au )
Twitter: LIVE updates at twitter.com/TheMatildas hashtag #AUSvCHN
Westfield Matildas record v China P.R.
Played 36; Won 8, Drawn 9, Lost 19
Last three meetings
25/10/2015 China P.R. 1-1 Westfield Matildas (Friendly)
27/11/2013 Westfield Matildas 2-1 China P.R. (Friendly)
24/11/2013 Westfield Matildas 2-0 China P.R. (Friendly)