Group of death no waltz for confident Matildas

Written by admin on 06/06/2019 Categories: 深圳桑拿论坛

The United States, 2003 runners-up Sweden and African champions Nigeria loom in Group D in Canada with the Americans first up in Winnipeg on June 8.

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Facing the second ranked twice world champions in front of what is likely to be a bumper crowd of border-crossing American fans is a tough way for any team to start their tournament.

“It is, but we’re all excited by the challenge,” co-captain Clare Polkinghorne said.

“It’s the World Cup so you are not going to get any easy games. You have to beat the best to be the best.”

Australia’s optimism is based on a strong run of form since they finished runners-up to Japan in last year’s Asian Cup, which earned the Matildas their World Cup spot.

Coach Alen Stajcic had taken over in a caretaker capacity less than a month before when Dutchwoman Hesterine de Reus was sacked after a player mutiny over her disciplinary regime.

Stajcic got the job full time after the tournament despite the 1-0 defeat to the world champions in the final and has spent the last year moulding a side he hopes will play vibrant, attacking football in Canada.

Australia have goal-scoring threats all over the park and Stajcic has such strength up front that he was able to leave out the country’s most prolific striker in Kate Gill, who has 40 goals in 83 internationals.

That Stajcic has also repaired the team culture was perhaps most evident in his selection of Lisa De Vanna as one of the co-captains, handing the 30-year-old a leadership role for the first time.

The pacy and skillful forward, kicked out of the training camp before the 2011 World Cup, has played in both the United States and Sweden and is convinced the Matildas can do much better than their quarter-final finishes in 2007 and 2011.

“I honestly believe that this team is going to go all the way,” De Vanna said. “I’ve been in this team for a very long time and this is probably the most prepared Matildas team that we’ve ever had.”

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

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