Alicia Ferguson Interview

Alicia Ferguson has played in big tournaments before and knows from experience how daunting they can be.

Alicia Ferguson has played in big tournaments before and knows from experience how daunting they can be, but she id confident that Australia-s young stars will have no problem coping with the occasion later tonight when they clash with Brazil at the FIFA Women-s World Cup in Tianjin, China.

At the 1999 FIFA World Cup finals in the USA, Ferguson was the youngest player in the Matildas squad and was given a start in the final group match against China. It-s not a match she looks back on with much fondness, as after just two minutes she was sent off.

Ferguson looks back and readily admits the occasion of playing at the World Cup got to her, but doesn-t believe making the quarter finals of this year-s tournament will affect the young players in the team in tonight-s crunch game.

“It-s something you learn the more you play and it-s not let the occasion get to you too much,” Ferguson said on the eve of the match. “At the end of the day it-s just another football game.

“I learnt the hard way back in 1999, when I probably let the occasion get to me and I got sent off in the first minute, but these young girls (like Collette McCallum, Sally Shipard, Lauren Colthorpe and Clare Polkinghorne) have such mature heads on their shoulders.

“They-ve traveled the world already with football, so they-re been in these situations before, whereas back when I first started, it was all a very new experience.

Ferguson, who also played at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, also didn-t mind admitting that she had allowed herself to dream of what could happen if they manage a win against Brazil.

“Yes definitely,” she said, when asked if she had dreamed that they could possibly be playing a semi final of a World Cup. “I think you have to think that way and while you don-t want to go around saying it to everyone, of course that-s what everyone is thinking.

“You don-t want to come to a World Cup, thinking, we just want to get to the quarter finals, you come to a World Cup thinking, we want to win the World Cup. I think every team here will have that, and now that we are in the quarter finals anything can happen in the game; you can-t predict what is going to happen.

“So I don-t think it-s too presumptuous to think we can actually make the semi finals and then make the final.”

Like everyone else amongst the Australian squad, she was excited by the events on Thursday night, but also relieved.

“Look we are obviously very happy to qualify and I also think there was a big sigh of relief when Chez (Cheryl Salisbury) did score that last goal to get us through. We always came here thinking we were going to qualify for the quarter finals, so we-ve achieved that goal now and as the old clique goes ‘ we-ll just take it one game at a time-.

She knows they face a tough match against the highly ranked Brazilians, who are clear favourites to beat Australia, but Ferguson is adamant if they stick to their game plan, they could cause a shock.

“Brazil always play an attacking style of football and if you can try and nullify those dangers then you have always got a chance of scoring against them.

“They have never been known as a fantastic defensive team, particularly in the women-s game I think, and we-ve created a lot of chances. In games like this, it really comes down to who converts those chances, because you don-t really get that many when it comes to finals matches.

“I am not sure we have to change our style that much; the way we-ve played has worked for us and you want to be careful going into these games that you don-t change the way you play for the other team too much. Obviously you have to be aware of how they can play and their dangers but we-ve successful with the way we-ve played and I don-t think it will change that much.”

Ferguson knows the importance of an early goal and with Brazil not having conceded a goal as yet at the tournament, nobody knows how they will handle having to come from behind.

“They-ve had an easy pathway, where they have played against teams that are big goalscorers, so they have been lucky.

“We have created a lot of chances and have got some very good goalscorers, so we-ll see how it goes.”

SBS will show the match live from 10.00pm, with broadcast coverage starting at 9.50pm.

The winner of the match will play USA in the semi final, after they beat England 3-0 in their semi final played last night.