The Westfield Matildas woke up this morning knowing they are tantalisingly close to a spot at the Rio Olympics after recording a third successive win in their 2016 Olympic qualifying tournament.
With the top two teams on the table at the end of the tournament making it through to the Olympics, goals from Kyah Simon and Emily van Egmond in an opening 15 minute spell inspired by Lisa De Vanna put the Westfield Matildas within arms reach of a place at August’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The Westfield Matildas Olympic Games Qualifiers will be showcased LIVE on 7mate.
The Westfield Matildas sit on top of the six team group with nine points, two points clear of second placed China and four points ahead of DPR Korea, who ironically are the two teams the Westfield Matildas still have to face, with two match days remaining.
A draw or win against DPR Korea in their next match on Monday (7 March) would see the Westfield Matildas qualify, however a loss could open up other permutations depending on other results that include the possibility of needing a win in their final match against China P.R. on Wednesday (9 March).
In what was her 50th Westfield Matildas appearance, Emily van Egmond slotted home a 14th minute penalty to give Australia a crucial two goal lead over Korea Republic. The German based midfielder has started in each of the three matches so far and felt a sense of relief to get past Korea Republic considering it was not one of the Westfield Matildas’ best displays.
“It wasn’t our best footballing performance but in saying that football is a funny game and sometimes you have to play it on its merits a little bit,” said van Egmond.
“We recognised early that we had some joy getting balls in behind their defence and that ended up being effective for us so we managed to seal the deal in the first half.”
“I think the girls are extremely positive and confident going into these last two games. I think we are all aware that the job is not done yet, we’ve got two massive games against the teams that are also in contention and I know everyone will be fully focused.”
Goalkeeper Lydia Williams was an integral part of a sound Westfield Matildas defensive unit that managed to keep a lively and dangerous Korea Republic at bay.
The 2-0 result was the Westfield Matildas’ second clean sheet of the campaign (Williams was rested in the 9-0 victory over Vietnam), with the 27 year old having only conceded one goal so far which came in the opening match against Japan.
“I think it’s pretty exciting that we’ve put out what we wanted to from the start but we’ve still got two games to go, so it’s plan as normal, try to get five wins and then we can start to celebrate after that,” said Williams.
“We were under the pump a bit throughout the game but the defence put in a huge effort to keep a clean sheet, and to get the win as well gives us a lot of confidence heading into the next two games which will determine our qualification for Rio.”
The Westfield Matildas will take on DPR Korea on Monday 7 March 2016 at Yanmar Stadium Nagai in the penultimate match day of the tournament (kick-off 7.35pm local, 9.35pm AEDT).
Click here for the full list of fixtures and results from the 2016 Olympic qualifying tournament.