After a breakthrough performance at China 2007 when they reached the quarter-finals Australia will be looking to demonstrate they are here to stay as a force on the world stage. In the notoriously difficult Asian zone, the new-look Matildas side showed they know how to overcome elite opposition by being crowned continental champions for the first time, becoming the first Australian men’s or women’s side to do so. Though several experienced and high-quality players retired during the last few years the squad has been reinvigorated by a crop of talented youngsters helping to form a dynamic and talented unit.
The road to Germany
The western Chinese city of Chengdu was the scene of Australia’s greatest moment as a last-gasp equaliser against Canada at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ saw the Matildas progress from their group for the first time. Their return to the same venue for the qualification series proved to be equally memorable. The Aussies did it the hard way by facing the four other big guns of the region en route to being crowned queens of Asia. Comfortable wins against Vietnam and rising power Korea Republic were followed by an inconsequential 1-0 group-stage loss to host nation China. Then came a tenacious 1-0 victory against Asia’s highest ranked nation Japan that secured qualification, before a penalty shoot-out triumph against Korea DPR after 120 minutes played in the most gruelling conditions.
The star players
The team possesses both determination and x-factor in equal measure and none display the latter attribute more than forward Lisa De Vanna. In combination with the talented and athletic Kyah Simon, the Australian attack can outpace the best defence if given enough latitude. Providing the service from midfield are a host of talented players led by passing ace Collette McCallum and the guile of experienced campaigner Heather Garriock on the left flank.
The 2007 Asian Women’s Coach of the year Tom Sermanni has innumerable experience with both men’s and women’s football across Australia, Japan and USA, as well as at the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup. He coached in the WUSA (the predecessor to WPS), before taking the reins of the Australian team, where the tone was set in his initial match as the Matildas scored a famous win against Germany in January 2005. A generous nature and a strong affinity with the playing group have seen the team enjoy unprecedented success under the guidance of the affable Scottish-born mentor.
Previous FIFA Women’s World Cups
|2||Kate MC SHEA|
|11||Lisa DE VANNA|