Australia coach Hesterine de Reus says this week’s two-match series against China PR was an important step on the road to next year’s AFC Asian Women’s Cup.
Australia coach Hesterine de Reus says this week-s two-match series against China PR was an important step on the road to next year-s AFC Asian Women-s Cup where the Westfield Matildas will attempt to defend their continental crown.
The Aussies proved too strong for China winning the first match in style with two unanswered goals in Wollongong on Sunday, before a tougher 2-1 victory in Parramatta on Wednesday.
The dual wins came despite losing a string of players ahead of the first match, most notably co-captain Kate Gill was forced home through illness, and Nicola Bolger, Teigen Allen and Brianna Davey were also forced out of the squad due to injury, while Servet Uzunlar was unable to gain a clearance from her Korean club.
The omissions opened up an opportunity for experienced midfielder Collette McCallum to make an impressive return, while Chloe Logarzo, Emma Checker and uncapped Newcastle Jets goalkeeper Eliza Campbell all came into camp.
De Reus said the matches and seven-day camp proved invaluable for many reasons, including an opportunity to cast an eye over new players.
“In my eyes yes (it was valuable), because I didn-t know all the players,” said de Reus. “I saw new players, young players, so I have a wider vision of where we are. We still have a lot of players out (injured). We still have the likes of Caitlin (Foord), Alanna (Kennedy), Kyah (Simon), Ashley Brown so there is still a lot of players out there that will add more depth for us.
“Collette McCallum played more than I planned. If she gets her full fitness back she will be a valuable player for us, which is a good thing.
“Polksy (Clare Polkinghorne) was good again, and has consistency. KK (Elise Kellond-Knight) was good enough and also showed some consistency. Lisa De Vanna showed she really wants to fire up the team so that is a good thing as well.”
Next May-s Asian continental title in Vietnam is a pivotal milestone for the Westfield Matildas, with the tournament also doubling as qualifying for the FIFA Women-s World Cup Canada 2015.
“I think we are still on track for the Asian Women-s Cup,” said de Reus. “We have all these games ahead of us which will be good preparation and I think we will get there.”
Despite winning the second match on Wednesday relatively comfortably, the Westfield Matildas failed to find the fluency they exhibited in the first outing leaving de Reus dissatisfied with the performance.
“We didn-t play well but we won,” she said. “The positive for me is that we still won a poor game.
“I thought we had some poor defending and poor passing but despite that winning is a positive.
“The first game was really good, but we didn-t find consistency (over the two matches).
“The subs we brought in (in the second match) were very quick players and we had a lot of speed up front. That was a good thing especially when you drop a bit and you can play long balls and still be dangerous with that speed up front, so there are some positives.
“Now we can go into the W-League season, so we look for the players to gain some consistency, and then we have a row of games from February until May.”