Next stop top five for Matildas
19 Oct 2015
Captain Lisa De Vanna is confident the next crop of Matildas will establish Australia as a top five nation in women’s football by the next World Cup.
Australia has been a consistent top 10 country since 2011 but the recent World Cup performance in Canada, headlined by the Matildas’ second round victory over Brazil, has given the team a new level of belief and appreciation from the Australian public.
“The World Cup in Canada has given us more status and I can see in four years’ time with the group we have that the interest in women’s football is going to be massive,” said De Vanna, during a recent Matildas training camp at the AIS.
“It’s great that the public got behind us. That’s what we need, especially the young girls who have Snapchat and Instagram and all that social media. It really gives them the encouragement and self- belief to go out and perform.
“I know people doubted me when I said before the last World Cup that they will be very surprised by the way we took on the world. But we really did take it to the world in the last World Cup and I’m confident we are going to be in the top five in the next four years.”
The Matildas start a tour of China October 19-28, playing against the host nation and England in what is currently the last scheduled international practice matches before the Olympic qualifiers in Japan between February 29 and March 9 next year.
With only 12 countries qualifying for Rio, the Matildas have to overcome some of world’s best football nations in the Asian confederation before they even think about the Olympic Games.
To qualify for Rio Australia needs to finish in the top two in the round robin tournament against Japan (ranked fourth), North Korea (sixth), China (15th), South Korea (17th) and Vietnam (33rd).
Coach Alen Stajcic is under no illusion about how difficult qualifying for Rio will be and is banking on his players continuing to develop through the new W-League season and the various team camps between now and the end of summer.
“Asia is without a doubt the strongest confederation in the world in terms of women’s football so for us to qualify is almost harder than it will be when you get there,” he said.
“Qualifying for the tournament is massive. Whichever countries get there from Asia will be in medal contention.
“I certainly see with this team, that if it can grow and improve from the World Cup, there is no reason it can’t compete for medals at this Olympics and the next World Cup.”