The Westfield Matildas matches against China previewed with the Aussies looking to make the most of a rare outing on home soil.
The Westfield Matildas take on one of their oldest adversaries when they host China PR in Wollongong on Sunday and Parramatta on Wednesday. The matches will be a relatively rare chance for home fans to see the Aussies play a full international at home, following two internationals against New Zealand in June as the only outings in 2013 on home soil.
Australia are still in a period of transition under coach Hesterine de Reus with the Dutchwomen only five games into her tenure, despite taking the reins at the start of the year. A new coach, by definition, brings a different approach and perspective to the team. And after a few days in camp this week in Sydney, the Westfield Matildas will be itching to put their training-ground work into practise on the lush WIN Stadium surface.
Though the Aussies will field a strong starting line-up, the squad has been hit by a number of injuries on the eve of the match. Most notably, co-captain Kate Gill was forced home through illness, while Nicola Bolger, Teigen Allen and Brianna Davey are also out of the squad due to injury. In their stead have come experienced midfielder Collette McCallum, Chloe Logarzo, Emma Checker and Newcastle Jets goalkeeper Eliza Campbell has earned a maiden call-up.
The long-term focus is on next May-s AFC Asian Women-s Cup where the Westfield Matildas will be aiming to retain the crown they won in 2010. The tournament also doubles as qualifiers for the 2015 FIFA Women-s World Cup in Canada.
"It is a good challenge to see if we can beat them,” said De Reus of the two matches against China. “If we want to be good in the Asian Cup, then this is a good benchmark. We can find out how we play against an Asian-type of football.”
Traditionally one of the main powerhouses of women-s football, China have fallen on lean times by the own high standards in recent years. The 1999 FIFA Women-s World Cup runners-up failed to qualify for Germany 2011; a first-ever failure to reach the world stage. Results this year have been mixed with a win over Korea Republic at the East Asian Championship wedged either side of narrow losses against Japan and Korea DPR.
Australia have, New Zealand aside, faced China more than other nation. The pair have met 33 times with the Westfield Matildas recording eight wins and six draws. Recent years have seen the two teams well matched with Australia winning 1-0 in an Olympic Games qualifier in September 2011, and China reversing the result with a 2-1 win late last year in an East Asian Championship preliminary match.
Westfield Matildas v China PR 24 November 2013 Kick-off: 3pm WIN Stadium, Wollongong (First match only broadcast live nationally on ABC1, 2.50pm AEDT)
Westfield Matildas v China PR 27 November 2013 Kick-off: 7pm Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta
Tickets for the two matches can be purchased at www.footballaustralia.com.au/tickets Ticket Prices Adult - $20 Concession - $12 Junior - $12 Family - $56
Family: 2 Adults + 2 Juniors or 1 Adult + 3 Juniors Concession: Person holding a current Aged, Seniors, War, TPI or Invalid Card. NO STUDENTS. Patrons must show ID upon request. Junior: 3-16 years (inclusive). 2 years & under free on knee.