The Westfield Matildas will meet reigning world champions Japan in the third match of their 2012 London Olympic Games Asian qualification campaign on September 5 at the Shandong Sports Centre, China.
It will be the first time the teams have met since the 2010 AFC Asian Cup semi final, which Australia won 1-0. Japan finished third in the Asian Cup and proved themselves formidable opponents during the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup—they defeated the USA 3-1 on penalties in the grand final after the teams were deadlocked 2-2 after extra time.
Westfield Matildas Head Coach Tom Sermanni said he was looking forward to the match.
“For many years, we’ve had an extremely close relationship with Japan, and a strong and friendly rivalry,” Sermanni said.
“We always know it’s going to be an outstanding game against them and that they’re going to test us to our limits,” he said. “We have a great deal of respect for Japan and the way they play. I think that respect is mutual.”
Japan may have recently been crowned world champions, but the Westfield Matildas have a good track record against them. Of 18 matches played, the Westfield Matildas have won five and drawn seven.
“We’ve had a very good track record against Japan in critical games,” Sermanni said. “Hopefully history will repeat itself tomorrow.”
Sermanni said he was also interested to see what impact winning the Women’s World Cup has had on Japan.
“It will be interesting to see how Japan refocus for the tournament after the elation of winning the Women’s World Cup,” Sermanni said. “They could either be flying or be flat.”
So far, he said, little was separating the top teams in this Olympic qualification tournament.
“The results so far have shown how tight this competition is,” Sermanni said. “The games between the top teams have either been drawn or won by a goal. If we can get a result against Japan tomorrow night, it places us in a strong position for Olympic qualification.”
The Westfield Matildas will play a total of five matches in 11 days, with the teams that finish in the top two qualifying for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The Westfield Matildas were defeated 0-1 in their opening match against DPR Korea and defeated Thailand 5-1 yesterday. They will meet South Korea and China in their final two matches.