For Lisa De Vanna, memories and emotions of Australia’s 2010 Asian Cup glory are set to be a driving force as she competes in the tournament for the fourth time.
For Westfield Matildas forward Lisa De Vanna, memories and emotions of Australia-s 2010 Asian Cup glory are set to be a driving force as she competes in the tournament for the fourth time.
When Australia stunned Japan in the 2010 Asian Cup semi finals and then went on to win the Final, De Vanna was condemned to watching it all unfold from the sidelines. A serious broken leg against China earlier in the tournament had robbed De Vanna from playing any further part in the Matildas- remarkable run to the title.
But it is not the fact that she was unable to contribute on the field or the cruel luck that is the thing that is driving her most to do well in Ho Chi Minh. Rather, it is the inspiration and pride she felt watching her team mates defy the odds and triumph with their backs against the wall that is the thing fuelling her determination.
Considering the impressive list of feats she has achieved so far in her career, the fact that De Vanna lists one of her two career highlights to date as the goal Kate Gill scored to beat Japan in that 2010 semi final is testament to what it meant and continues to mean to her.
“When I broke my leg in the last Asian Cup it was probably one of the most unsatisfying but at the same time satisfying and joyous feelings for me,” De Vanna said.
“When you-re in that situation, when you-re vulnerable and can-t do much, you really rely on your team mates.
“For them to battle it out against Japan, who at the time were world class, it was probably one of the proudest moments being Australian just sitting there watching my team mates fight to the very end.
“So for me, not being able to play and seeing how they went about it made me realise what it means to be playing for Australia.
“When I put that jersey on and the anthem comes on it-s hard not to feel hungry and go out and play for your country.
Now four years on, De Vanna returns to the Asian Cup four years older but still one of the Westfield Matildas- key figures and most potent threats. As one official close to the Matildas camp stated, “When Lisa is on she-s on and there aren-t many who can stop her.”
A fit and firing De Vanna would certainly benefit an Australian team that finds itself opening its title defence against World Champions Japan before its two ensuing group matches against Jordan and host nation Vietnam.
“I-m coming into this tournament healthy - fingers crossed - so it-s nice to be fit and healthy leading up to playing against Japan and the top teams in Asia,” De Vanna said.
“I think it gets a bit harder to adjust the older you get but I-m feeling ok and just looking forward to the tournament.”
Prior to the start to this tournament, the 29 year old has represented the Matildas 86 times and if as expected she lines up against Japan, she will surpass Di Alagich to become Australia-s fifth most capped female player behind Anissa Tann, Joanne Peters, Heather Garriock and Cheryl Salisbury.
Notably, this Asian Cup will be the first time countries will vie for five spots at next year-s FIFA Women-s World Cup in Canada, in contrast to just the three that have been on offer previously. The extra places given to Asian nations at Canada 2015 may be in the Matildas- favour but De Vanna is certainly not letting herself get caught up thinking that qualification will be a lay down misere.
“My first priority is qualifying, then the next step is getting that title,” she said.
“It would be nice to make the finals, we have in the last two attempts but when you-re the defending champions everyone wants to compete against you and you-re the team they want to beat so you can-t underestimate anyone.”
De Vanna is one of 11 players in this current Westfield Matildas squad that were part of the one that lifted the Asian Cup trophy four years ago. This 2014 edition contains an exciting mix of experience and youth, and De Vanna believes the experience of this Asian Cup will provide a taste for the younger players and prove invaluable in their development and for what is hopefully to come if they can qualify for the World Cup.
“We-re in good spirits right now. There-s a genuine excitement and a lot of the girls are young so this is a first time experience for them,” De Vanna said.
“We-ve got a lot of talent in this team, a lot of depth. This is a major tournament and not many of these girls have experienced it yet.
“You can play international friendly games but with this there-s more at stake so it-s a good insight into potentially what we could experience in a year-s time.”
Every one of the Westfield Matildas- 2014 Asian Cup matches will be LIVE and exclusive on Fox Sports. Kick-Off for Wednesday-s game against Japan is at 11.15pm AEST and will be shown on Fox Sports 3 and Fox Sports 3HD.