Written by: Aissa Huysmans
Currently ranked 10th in the official FIFA World Ranking, the Matildas will offer fierce competition in this years Women’s World Cup (1). The Australian team has fielded their national team at 6 of the 7 past women’s World Cups. The Australian team ended up as runner’s up to Japan at the 2014 Women’s Asian Cup, automatically qualifying them for the World Cup in Canada. Their best World Cup results were in 2007 and 2011 in which they made it to the Quarterfinals (2). Their past two World Cup performances show them making their way up the ranks, and who knows, they may catch the Swedish and US team by surprise in the upcoming tournament.
Historically, women’s soccer in Australia has been well supported, with the Australian Women’s Soccer Association (AWSA) being founded as early as 1974 (2). Currently, the Australian women’s soccer league is called the Westfield W-League, with 8 local teams making up the league (3). An interesting point to note is that the majority of the players on the current Australian women’s World Cup team play in the W-league, where they either play alongside one another, or face one another on a consistent basis. The fact that most of the players in the national team play in local teams is one that has both positives and negatives. On the positive side, the Australian players know each other and their different playing styles well due to higher frequency of play, leading to higher team cohesion on the international front. However, as a counter, this also means that the players do not interact as often with players from competing nations in alternate leagues where the competition may be stiffer. It will be interesting to see how these factors play out in this years World Cup.
At the 2015 World Cup, the Matildas will be led by head coach Alen Stajcic who before becoming a coach, played himself too. He initially was the interim coach for the women’s team, but in 2014 was officially appointed head coach (4).
“I enjoyed the experience of working with the playing group at the Asian Cup earlier this year and I’m grateful to the FFA for giving me this opportunity,” Stajcic said. “I’m excited about the future of the women’s football and look forward to working hard with the playing group to ensure the Matildas succeed on the international stage.
“There is no doubt we face an important phase but we have a very talented young group of players and I’m confident that with hard work we will be able to do Australia proud.” (4)
Stajcic certainly sounds ready for the upcoming competition, and with an Australian side that consistently represents themselves well on the world stage, he has good reason to be confident. The team currently possesses a good mixture of both experience and youth, allowing them to ground themselves well and be both physically and mentally field tough competitors.
For a full viewing of Australia’s 1 – 0 loss to Japan in the 2014 Asian Women’s Championship, see the video below:
Full match: Australia vs Japan AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2014 from YouTube user W-League Matches
Player to Watch: Kate Gill
Kate Gill is co-captain of the Australian national team, alongside Clare Polkinghorne. In her position as center forward, as well as one of the veterans of the team, she will play a key role in maintaining a positive psychology for the Australian team (1). She is a tough striker, with good heading abilities as well as a good first touch (5). She has played for Australia since 2004 and is the leading goal scorer with over 40 goals in around 80 appearances (5). Gill is definitely one of the players to watch for the Australian team, and her team will be looking to her as a forward to get them through the group stages.
Kate Gill, along with the rest of the Matildas, were also recently in the news as having taken a stand against the decision made by FIFA to play on turf fields in this years 2015 women’s world cup in Canada (6). The entire Australian team, as well as many other national teams, have been up in arms about this decision that calls into question the equal treatment of men’s and women’s soccer by FIFA.
“The World Cup is the highest level of women’s football and the pitch should reflect this and also be of the highest possible standard, as they would be for the men’s tournament.”
“Having had to play on artificial turf on numerous occasions I can say it should only be utilised when it is absolutely necessary due to the environment. With this tournament being held in summer in Canada this is certainly not the case.” – Kate Gill (6)
The decision was ultimately not over-turned and the teams will have to adjust their play to the turf fields. The controversial debate is certainly not over though, and will receive much more attention as the tournament begins. For the moment, the teams have had to put the debate aside as they prepare themselves for the tournament. The Australian team will without a doubt be a team to watch throughout the group stages as their youthful players give it their all to make it through to the knockouts. With Kate Gill as well as a whole host of talented players; Lisa De Vanna, Caitlin Foord and Katrina Gorry to name but a few, they’re certainly a team to watch and, alongside Nigeria, will need to fight if they hope to make it through the Group of Death.
1. Group D. http://www.ussoccer.com/stories/2014/12/06/13/34/141206-wnt-usa-draws-group-d-for-2015-wc
2. Australian women’s soccer team. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia_women’s_national_soccer_team
3. W-League. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W-League_(Australia)
4. The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/sep/22/matildas-confirm-alen-stajcic-as-permanent-head-coach
5. Kate Gill. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_Gill
6. Artifical turg unsuitable for World Cup. http://www.fifpro.org/en/news/matildas-artificial-turf-not-suitable-for-world-cup
1. Australian Women’s National Team from the examiner.com. http://www.examiner.com/article/matildas-qualify-for-2015-world-cup
2. Australia’s previous titles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia_women%27s_national_soccer_team
3. Kate Gill. http://matildas.footballaustralia.com.au/article/kate-gill-named-afc-goodwill-ambassador/1m2a3e0kuzwvj1deiy4sbqvb3t
How to cite this article: “Australia” Written by Aissa Huysmans (2015), World Cup 2015, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp/world-cup-guides/world-cup-2015-guide/australia/ (accessed on (date)).