‘I think we can give the World Cup a shake’: Stajcic confident of Westfield Matildas’ chances in France
It still may be sixth months away but this weekend’s FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™Draw will cue the start of the Westfield Matildas being able to narrow their focus towards the tournament.
That’s the view of coach Alen Stajcic, who will fly to France later this week for Sunday morning’s (AEDT) draw in Paris.
The Westfield Matildas are expected to be in Pot 1 for the draw, meaning it's likely they will avoid the likes of heavyweights France, USA, Germany and England in the group stage.
While admitting it’s important to be seeded in Pot 1 for the draw, the Westfield Matildas boss knows there are still some powerful nations his side will be pitted against when the tournament gets underway in June next year.
“In the next pot there’s the Netherlands who are the European champions, Spain who are one of the best emerging nations, you have Norway, there’s Sweden who are former winners and gold medallists at the Olympics,” Stajcic explained.
“Pot 2 isn’t exactly easy either and we’ll get one of them in our group.
“There’s Brazil as well and Japan, a former World Cup winner, so the difference between Pot 1 or 2 isn’t that great.
“It’s an exciting time for us and the team, we can’t wait to see the group we fall into,” Stajcic added.
“It’s always highly anticipated…it will be extremely important in narrowing our focus and seeing what we have to prepare for.”
On the back of the exploits of star striker Sam Kerr and some excellent form from the team over the last couple of years, Westfield Matildas will head to France as a genuine contender to win FIFA Women’s World Cup.
And while Kerr – who came in fifth at the inaugural Women’s Ballon d’Or awards, which are presented by France Football – has generated plenty of headlines for her performances lately, Stajcic believes the Westfield Matildas have “world-class” players all over the pitch.
But he knows it won’t be individuals that will take Australia to World Cup glory, rather a consistent, united squad effort.
“It’s great that Sam is leading the way in terms of the limelight but it’s really important now that our team unites as one,” Stajcic said.
“The Matildas will only win the World Cup if we have 23 committed players who are united and at the peak of their powers.
“We can’t win unless we’re at our best, we aren’t good enough to win if we are a seven out of 10. We have to ensure when we get to the World Cup every game is an eight, nine or 10 out of 10.
“If we do that, have that level of consistency, I think we can give the World Cup a shake. There’s probably six or eight countries that can win the World Cup and I put us in that bracket.”
Who do you want to see the Westfield Matildas up against?
Australia are expected to be in Pot 1. In this instance, they would not be able to face France, USA, Germany, England or Canada (final pots will be confirmed after the FIFA World Rankings update on December 7).