Westfield Matildas Head Coach Alen Stajcic is set to make a host of changes to his line-up for the second match of their 2016 Olympic qualifying tournament against Vietnam at Yanmar Stadium on Wednesday 2 March.
Co-captain and veteran Lisa De Vanna is one player certain to be rested from the match, while a number of players who started against Japan will move to the bench as the Westfield Matildas prepare to back up less than 48 hours after their historic and memorable win over the host country in their tournament opener.
The Westfield Matildas’ match against Vietnam will be shown LIVE on 7mate in prime time (kick-off 6.35pm AEDT).
“There will probably be six or seven changes to the team that starts against Vietnam,” said Stajcic.
“We only had four players who didn’t get on against Japan plus the three substitutes that came on so at the moment I’m expecting that the majority of those players will start tomorrow.”
Of those that could start is 15 year old Western Sydney Wanderers defender Ellie Carpenter, who was a late inclusion into the squad due to an injury to Aivi Luik.
While Sharon Wass is the youngest player to play an ‘A’ international for the Matildas (Wass was 14 years 240 days v New Zealand in 1981), Carpenter would become the first capped Westfield Matilda to be born in this millennium if she takes the field.
The victory over Japan, who are ranked fourth in the world, has given the Westfield Matildas the perfect platform to try and lock in one of the two spots up for grabs at the Olympics. However Stajcic is fully aware a slip up against Vietnam would spoil that foundation.
The Westfield Matildas’ most recent encounters against Vietnam resulted in two comprehensive victories in Sydney just prior to last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, but Stajcic is taking little notice of those score lines believing they are not a true reflection of the challenge Vietnam pose.
Adding weight to Stajcic’s view is that a stubborn Vietnam only went down 2-0 to China in their opening match of the tournament proving they will be anything but a push over.
“I’ve watched their game against China and they were very well organised and made it hard for China to score. The two goals China scored were off a corner and the other one was a penalty. Aside from that they didn’t really create many other chances,” said Stajcic.
“I’m almost wiping those two games we played against them in Sydney before last year’s World Cup because Vietnam only came over at the last minute and maybe they weren’t as well prepared as they could have been.”
“We’re certainly not going to be complacent. We’ll show them a lot of respect, and getting these three points will be just as crucial as the ones we got against Japan.”
With fatigue set to play a significant part deeper into the tournament with the teams faced with the schedule of five games in 10 days, Stajcic knows if the Westfield Matildas can get points on the board early on it will put them in a highly favourable position.
“It’s a race to the finish line. You want to have points in the bank early rather than having to panic and play desperate football towards the end of the tournament when everyone is going to be tired and fatigued,” said Stajcic.
“That win against Japan was a great way to start and if we can pick up more points tomorrow and then on Friday against Korea Republic it will put us in good stead for the final two games next week against DPR Korea and China.”
Wednesday’s other two matches sees DPR Korea take on China while Japan face Korea Republic.
A top two finish in the group will see the Westfield Matildas qualify for August’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Westfield Matildas v Vietnam
Wednesday 2 March 2016
Yanmar Stadium Nagai, Osaka
Kick-Off: 4:35pm local time (6:35pm AEDT)
LIVE nationally 9:30pm AEDT on 7mate (LIVE stream: 7Live.com.au )
Westfield Matildas record v Vietnam
Played 5; Won 5, Drawn 0, Lost 0
Last three meetings
21/05/2015 Westfield Matildas 11-0 Vietnam (Friendly)
19/05/2015 Westfield Matildas 4-0 Vietnam (Friendly)
18/05/2014 Vietnam 0-2 Westfield Matildas (AFC Women’s Asian Cup)