Preview: Matildas v Japan

It’s an all AFC battle as the Westfield Matildas face defending champions Japan for a spot in the FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-finals.


Live Blog World Cup QF: Matildas v Japan

This will be one not to be missed so add this clash to your weekend ‘to do’ list as these two fierce rivals meet on Sunday morning (AEST) in Edmonton.

Alen Stajcic’s side has come through four difficult games to get to this stage and should expect another torrid tussle against a well-rounded Japanese outfit.

The 2011 World Cup winners aren’t just technically gifted all over the park but also tactically flexible and ultra-disciplined.

With both sides likely to go for it, this has the potential to be a classic.

The Matildas and Japan walk out for the 2014 Women's Asian Cup final.2

While Australia are sure to be battle-hardened after four tough matches including an historic 1-0 win over Brazil in the round of 16, Japan’s progress has been far more straightforward.

They’ve won all four of their matches without really getting out of second gear.

So can they find that extra gear or two likely to be required to beat the high-flying Matildas?

It will be vitally important for Australia to get off to a good start, with Japan making a habit of that throughout the tournament.

Five of Japan’s six goals this tournament have been scored within the first 30 minutes and they have yet to fall behind in any of their four matches.

While the midfield battle – where Elise Kellond-Knight and Emily van Egmond have been exceptional for the Matildas this tournament – will be important, it’s the wide areas where this clash could be decided.

Japanese star Aya Miyama is a huge weapon, equally comfortable going down the left wing or cutting inside and allowing her fullback to overlap.

It’s a similar story with Nahomi Kawasumi on the right flank.

Luckily for the Matildas they have Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley in eye-catching form to quell that threat.

The pair are likely to ask just as many questions at the other end as they will have to answer in defence.

Matildas fullback Caitlin Foord wins the ball in front of Brazilian superstar Marta.

Foord in particular was superb against Brazil, keeping superstar Marta quiet for the entire 90 minutes.

If those two – with support from wingers Sam Kerr and Lisa De Vanna can win the battle out wide, the Matildas will be hard to beat.

This is an Australian side that not only plays exciting, modern football but aren’t daunted by the reputation of their opponents.

Their performances against the USA, Sweden and Brazil are clear evidence of that.

The Matildas have shown incredible belief, concentration and skill so far this tournament. Another 90 – or 120 minutes – of that on Sunday and they could be in the semi-final of a World Cup.

Japan might have got the cash in last year’s Asian Cup decider but this is a very different Matildas side on style and confidence – if not personnel.

Can they keep their astonishing run going…you would be foolish to bet against this driven and talented bunch of Aussie women.

Matildas in article banner.