The Westfield Matildas can sew up an Olympic berth with a win or a draw against DPR Korea tomorrow night (Monday 7 March) in the penultimate match day of the 2016 Olympic qualifying tournament in Osaka.
After three straight wins so far in the tournament, a fourth against DPR Korea or even a draw would ensure the Westfield Matildas a top two finish and seal their place at August’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
However a loss could open up other permutations depending on the other results which could lead to the possibility of the Westfield Matildas needing a win in their final match against China P.R. on Wednesday (9 March).
The Westfield Matildas’ match against DPR Korea will be shown LIVE on 7mate (kick-off 9.35pm AEDT).
The Westfield Matildas currently sit top of the group with nine points, two clear of second placed China and four points ahead of DPR Korea, the two teams they have to face.
While a draw would be enough to see the Westfield Matildas qualify for their first Olympics since 2004, Head Coach Alen Stajcic has never been one that goes into a game with a mentality to secure just a point and it is not something he is about to start doing now.
“Every game that I’ve ever been involved in or coached I want to win and it is not going to be any different tomorrow night,” said Stajcic.
“We have played some really good football and shown a great fighting spirit so far at this tournament so there’s nothing stopping us from beating DPR Korea and extending our winning run.”
So close to achieving their goal, the Westfield Matildas still have this one final obstacle to overcome and Stajcic knows the danger of thinking it is just going to happen.
“It’s hard not to dream about those things but really we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves,” said Stajcic on the Westfield Matildas’ prospective Olympic qualification.
“There is still a lot of work to be done and it’s still possible not to qualify if we’re not successful against DPR Korea and China, so we need to make sure our focus and concentration is good because DPR Korea and China are the last two teams in contention and they’re the two we have to play.”
"We will continue to play positive football, our style of football, and back ourselves and abilities at all times both with and without the ball.”
Physically the Westfield Matildas are in good shape having been able to rotate the squad through the first three matches.
All of the teams have had an extra day off since their last match (two days instead of one) and Stajcic knows the biggest challenge for the players will be mentally and being able to maintain a relentless and ruthless approach.
“We’ve tried to rotate the squad as much as we can but now we come down to the crunch matches so there’s no perfect answer on how much you can rotate the squad and who can play in different positions.
“I’m fortunate that I’ve got such a talented and versatile group and there’s flexibility that they can play in different positions so I’m really confident we can dominate North Korea and take the three points on Monday.”
DPR Korea are ranked 6th in the world despite having not competed at the 2014 AFC Women’s Asian Cup and last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup due to being banned from both major tournaments for doping in 2011.
“They’re well organised, are very good technically and have a number of threatening players up front,” said Stajcic.
“DPR Korea are a world class opponent so we will need to be at the top our game to come out on top.”
“Our destiny in is our own hands because the only two teams that can knock us out are the two teams we have to play.”
The Westfield Matildas’ last meeting with DPR Korea was in February 2015 in a friendly international in Auckland which finished 2-1 to the Australians.
DPR Korea v Westfield Matildas
Monday 7 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 #PRKvAUS
Westfield Matildas record v DPR Korea
Played 15; Won 4, Drawn 5, Lost 6
Last three meetings
10/02/2015 Westfield Matildas 2-1 DPR Korea (Friendly)
1/09/2011 Westfield Matildas 0-1 DPR Korea (Olympic qualifier)
6/02/2010 Westfield Matildas 3-2 DPR Korea (Friendly)