First Match Crucial for Qantas Matildas

The Qantas Matildas will be looking to get their first Asian Football Confederation tournament off to a good start after drawing Korea Republic in the opening match of the 2006 AFC Women's Championships.

The Qantas Matildas will be looking to get their first Asian Football Confederation tournament off to a good start after drawing Korea Republic in the opening match of the 2006 AFC Women's Championships.   Head Coach Tom Sermanni (pictured speaking to the media after the draw) who attended the draw in Adelaide said that the first match against Korea Republic was the most crucial of all the pool games.   "The most critical game will be the opening one without a doubt," said Sermanni.    "If we lose that match it puts a great deal of pressure on us. Having said that I'm glad we do have a tough match first up as it means the team will be focused right from the first game."   The draw for the nine-nation tournament to be held in Adelaide during July was made today with the nations split into two groups with Australia up against two-time defending champion DPR Korea, Korea Republic, Thailand and Myanmar.  The other group is China PR, Japan, Chinese Taipei and Vietnam.  The top two teams from each group go through to the Semi Finals.   Sermanni conceded he would have preferred to have been drawn in the group of four teams, meaning one less pool match.   "My preference would have been to be in the group of four but the way the draw has worked out it has nullified my concerns because we get a break between our two toughest matches," added  Sermanni.   "The two most difficult matches are the Koreans but we have to not dismiss the other teams lightly because they had to overcome some hurdles to make it this far and they won't be coming just to make up the numbers."   "We are looking forward to getting the home town support from South Australian sporting fans."   The 2006 AFC Women's Championships double as the qualifiers for the 2007 Women's World Championship to be held in China.   In addition to China getting automatic entry to the World Championships as host, the Asian region receives another two full spots plus a third team will play off against a team from CONCACAF.   Therefore the finalists from Adelaide will qualify for the World Championships while the winner of the third/fourth playoff will then have to defeat a team from CONCACAF to win a place at the World Championships. However should China make the final in Adelaide then the other finalist will qualify directly for the World Championships alongside the winner of the third/fourth playoff.  The fourth placed team will then attempt to qualify against a nation from CONCACAF.    2006 ASIAN FOOTBALL CONFEDERATION WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIPS - ADELAIDE   GROUPS   Group A China PR (ranked 8 in World) Japan (11) Vietnam (36) Chinese Taipei (25)   Group B DPR Korea (7) Korea Republic (23) Australia (15) Thailand (40) Myanmar (44)   DRAW

Group Matches 16 July - Australia v Korea Republic, Myanmar v Thailand 18 July - Thailand v DPR Korea, Myanmar v Australia 19 July - China PR v Chinese Taipei, Japan v Vietnam 20 July - DPR Korea v Myanmar, Korea Rep v Thailand 21 July - Chinese Taipei v Japan, Vietnam v China PR 22 July - Korea Rep v Myanmar, Australia v DPR Korea 23 July - China PR v Japan, Chinese Taipei v Vietnam 24 July - Thailand v Australia, DPR Korea v Korea Rep

Finals 27 July - Semi Final 1 (Winner Group A v Runners Up Group B) 27 July - Semi Final 2 (Winner Group B v Runners Up A) 30 July - 3rd/4th playoff (Loser Semi Final 1 v Loser Semi Final 2) 30 July - FINAL (Winner Semi Final 1 v Winner Semi Final 2)

* all venues and kick off times to be confirmed    TOURNAMENT HISTORY   YEAR     WINNER 1975        New Zealand 1977        Taiwan 1979        Taiwan 1981        Taiwan 1983        Thailand 1986        China 1989        China 1991        China 1993        China 1995        China 1997        China 1999        China 2001        DPR Korea 2003        DPR Korea