Duo out to make most of opportunity

One of the Matildas’ new squad members and another who is back in the national team fold have given their thoughts ahead of the team’s participation in the Cyprus Cup.

One of the Matildas- new squad members and another who is back in the national team fold have given their thoughts ahead of the team-s participation in the Cyprus Cup.

Uncapped 23 year old Gema Simon and Sydney FC forward Leena Khamis are part of the Matildas camp currently in Cyprus preparing for the 2014 Cyprus Women-s Cup which is being used as a lead up to the AFC Asian Women-s Cup in Vietnam in May.

The call up is Simon-s first for Australia-s national women-s side, while for Khamis, she returns to the Matildas for the first time since 2011.

With both eager to impress and push their claims for a spot in the squad for the AFC Asian Women-s Cup, find out what they had to say prior to the Matildas opening game of the Cyprus Women-s Cup against the Netherlands on Wednesday 5 March (11:30pm AEDT).

This is your first Matildas call up or your return to the team after a lengthy absence, how much of a surprise was it? Gema Simon (GS): Yes it was definitely a surprise but a very welcome one. It is a great opportunity and I-m extremely grateful for it.

Leena Khamis (LK): This is my first return to the team since after the World Cup in 2011, so that-s about two and a half years ago. It was very surprising considering it was my first full season back after my ACL injury and playing in a new position.

You have been drawn in a really tough group. Do you see this as a benefit ahead of the Asian Cup? GS: I think it will benefit us because it is always good to test yourselves and see where we are as a team. It will also be a good test to see how well we adapt to different styles of play.

LK: It's good preparation for the Asian Cup considering were going to face very strong teams in Asia too. It-s a great opportunity to face different styles of play, especially facing teams from Europe.

How are you expecting the other teams to line up? GS: I expect that the other teams will be quality and will be filled with a wealth of experience.

LK: Other teams might be trying a few different things in their line ups as preparation for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers but are also here for the same purpose, and that-s to win.

What is the mood like in the camp? GS: The mood is camp is good. There are a lot of quality players in this squad all determined to succeed.

LK: The mood is really positive and all of us ‘new- players are feeling welcomed by the girls who have been in the squad for a while now.

How have you adjusted going from the end of the Australian summer into late in the European winter? GS: It hasn't been too much of an adjustment. It is definitely colder here but nothing too extreme, you just have to rug up a little bit more than usual.

LK: It-s going to be better playing conditions weatherwise - not too hot like it is over summer back home. Lucky enough Cyprus isn't as cold as other European countries but it-s still fresh at night.

The Matildas have been drawn in Group B of the 12-nation annual event alongside the Netherlands, France and Scotland.

For more information on the tournament including a full list of fixtures and live results, visit cypruswomenscup.net .