Key defender Clare Polkinghorne believes the Westfield Matildas AFC Asian Cup experience has reaffirmed the areas they must improve to be contenders at next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
For the second AFC Asian Cup in a row, the Westfield Matildas fell at the final hurdle against Japan, going down 1-0 in the decider last month.
While Australia dominated the decider against Japan, they faced some tricky challenges on the way to the final.
Given the Westfield Matildas incredible attacking firepower and recent form, most nations they faced opted to sit back and get plenty of numbers behind the ball to deny Alen Stajcic’s side space.
According to Polkinghorne, it’s a tactic that is becoming more common from opposition teams now and something they must learn to deal with if they hope to make an impact at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“We’re not going under the radar anymore like we did in the last four or five years,” Polkinghorne told https://matildas.footballaustralia.com.au.
“Teams know what to expect from us, but knowing what to expect and being able to counter that is two entirely different things.
“The more teams watch us, the more they work out how we play and come up with strategies to stop us.
“That’s the challenge for us to keep improving and make it more difficult for oppositions to break us down.”
While disappointed to have fallen at the final hurdle, Polkinghorne says the emergence of some young stars has added more depth to the squad for what lies ahead.
While most of the side is now dispersed around the globe playing in the NWSL in America and around Europe, it will be long until they assemble again for the Tournament of Nations.
The four-nation event holds great memories for the squad after winning the inaugural tournament last year against host-nation USA, Brazil and Japan.
“It’s a pretty good tournament playing some of the biggest nations in the world. It’s going to be a pretty good test for us,” Polkinghorne admitted.
“Hopefully we can continue to build on the progress we’ve made the last few years.
“We had a very successful tournament [last year] with a number of firsts for us. Beating the US for the first time, winning a tournament which was a good experience for the group.”