The road to Canada
With five Asian berths up for grabs, Australia comfortably won through to Canada 2015 by virtue of a runners-up finish at the 2014 AFC Women’s Asian Cup. The team had endured a tumultuous preparation with Alen Stajcic filling the coaching role on an interim basis following the sudden departure of Hesterine De Reus just prior to Vietnam 2014. Australia saw off Jordan and Vietnam, as well as drawing 2-2 with Japan in the group stage, before defeating Korea Republic 2-1 in the semi-finals. The Matildas came within a whisker of retaining their Asian crown only to fall 1-0 against world champions Japan in the final.
Strengths and style
The current team defy the traditional stereotype of Australian teams and a pacy youthful side boasts a host of talented ball-players. Experienced forwards Lisa De Vanna and Kate Gill are among the few that could be considered veterans, although many in the squad debuted at the last FIFA Women’s World Cup™ as Australia fielded the second youngest squad at Germany 2011. Thus the Matildas squad is very much one that is youthful, yet experienced. Australia boasted more foreign players in the USA NWSL 2014 season than any country outside North America, helping to improve the player’s experience and football knowledge. Germany 2011 saw the likes of Kyah Simon, Elise Kellond-Knight and Caitlin Foord breakthrough at the top level, with the latter named Hyundai Best Young Player at the tournament.
Coach Alen Stajcic only assumed the reins on a permanent basis last September, having taken over on an interim basis for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup. With a lengthy background in junior female development, Stajcic led Sydney FC to two W-League titles with his sides typically playing a modern attacking brand of football.
FIFA Women’s World Cup record
- Canada 2015 will be Australia’s sixth appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, having only missed the maiden edition in 1991
- Australia have twice reached the quarter-finals in 2007 and 2011
What they said
“We want to go out and be positive, back ourselves and win games. We would rather lose and be positive, than have a negative mindset going into a game," Alen Stajcic, Australia coach