Alen Stajcic says the Westfield Matildas’ clash with France on Saturday (AEST) is the start of a huge opportunity for all players to press their claims for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
A squad mixed with established stars and new faces has been preparing in Saint-Etienne this week ahead of the clash against the European powerhouses.
Stajcic has been impressed by the way the squad has prepared and says they are in a “good frame of mind” for what should be an exciting clash at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
And with the countdown towards the World Cup in France now on, the Westfield Matildas boss says the door is open for every player to force their way onto the plane for the biggest tournament in women’s football.
“There’s no such thing as fringe players. Everyone here is playing for their country and everyone here is humbled by the honour of representing our country,” Stajcic told https://matildas.footballaustralia.com.au/.
“Everyone here is an important member of our squad and at the end of the day, we’re all playing to do our best against France but more importantly individually all the players are playing for spots for the World Cup next year.
“There’s no better audition in playing two superpowers [including England next week].
“I’m sure everyone wants to put their best foot forward today and in the W-League to try and get one of those 23 spots that are up for grabs for France next year.”
The France clash is the start of a big month for the Westfield Matildas, who also take on England in London next week, before the two-game home series against Chile in November.
The matches aren’t just crucial build-up towards the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France next year but also have added importance when it comes to Australia’s world ranking.
Currently ranked sixth in the world, the rankings will be updated before December’s draw for the World Cup and where the Westfield Matildas sit will determine if they are seeded or not.
“Every game is important and we want to be a seed,” Stajcic admitted.
“But at the end of the day when you get to the World Cup it doesn’t matter which group you are in or which game you play, every game is going to be tough.
“The world of women’s football has become so close from rank 1 to 10 and then between 10 and 20, the gap between all those countries has narrowed.
“Regardless of who we get in our group on December the 8th, we know it’s going to be a tough draw and we know we have to be at our peak to compete well.
“We have high expectations for our group but we certainly know how tough the journey is going to be.”
France v Westfield Matildas
Date: Friday, 5 October 2018 (local time)
Venue: Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne, France
Kick-off: 9pm (local); 5am – Saturday, 6 October 2018 (AEST)
Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, SBS TV, and via the My Football Live App