Future rosy for Women's International football

The future is looking very rosy for women’s football in Australia, according to Westfield Matildas boss Tom Sermanni.

The future is looking very rosy for women-s football in Australia, according to Westfield Matildas boss Tom Sermanni.

Sermanni should know, as he knows a lot about women-s football in Australia, having twice taken the National Women-s Team to the World Cup, the second time in 2007 all the way to the quarter finals.

But as good as that performance was in China two years ago, Sermanni believes the current group of young players coming through has loads of potential and is predicting perhaps even bigger things for many of them.

This weekend the Westfield Young Matildas (Australian U20 Women-s Team) will meet in Sydney for a four-day camp to continue their preparations for their assault on the AFC U19 Championships in Wuhan, China. It-s this group and even the next group of players that he has high hopes for down the track that could lead Australia towards becoming one of the top national women-s teams in the world.

“If this team qualifies (for the FIFA U20 Women-s World Cup) and they are confident of qualifying, they will give the World Youth Cup a real shake next year,” said Sermanni recently.

“They have a lot of very focused players and the coaching staff has done a terrific job with them and if they qualify, I-ve got no doubt about that.

“We have some very special players in that age group.”

Sermanni-s lofty expectations were only heightened after seeing the team play on their tour of Italy late last month, where they beat Finland twice convincingly, then beat World Cup hosts Germany 3-0 and then followed that with a win against a Thailand Select team, made up of senior and youth internationals, on their way home.

“It was a tremendously successful tour and camp,” Sermanni enthused.

“That group of players, there is quite a few of them that have been together for some time and it was great to see them develop; how they have sort of matured over the last year or so.

“There are a few in there now that have a reasonable amount of senior Matildas experience and that really shone through in those games.

“I think in that age group, we have some extremely talented players and while at times you have to distinguish the difference between the result and how you see future players, you look across this squad and it-s really exciting to see the amount of good young players that we have got coming through our system.”

The successful tour has certainly given the team a lot of confidence for the AFC Championship in early August, but Sermanni still knows qualifying will be a difficult task, given the strength of its group.

The Westfield Young Matildas must finish in the top three in order to qualify for Germany next year, but getting past Asian heavyweights Japan and China in its group could not be more difficult.

“It does (augur well) for this championship, but its going to be very difficult,” he said.

“In Wuhan (China) you will have pollution; extreme heat in a group with Japan and China and China playing at home. So it's going to be very, very difficult to qualify.”

A successful qualification though and Sermanni believes it could be a breakthrough year for women-s football in this country. Asked if that-s pretty high expectations?

“It is, but the players all believe that themselves and I think if we can qualify, several of those players will be involved in the Matildas squad for their qualifiers next year.

“Then they would be going onto the Youth World Cup, so you are going to have some really toughened and hardened footballers and talented ones as well.”

What-s really pleased Sermanni is the depth in the women-s game across the board and was never more highlighted by the results of the team in Italy and minus two of their bigger names in Emily van Egmond and dual-international Ellyse Perry.

Van Egmond continues her recovery from a leg injury, suffered when with the Matildas in January, while Perry has been away with the Australian Women-s Cricket team recently and is in serious doubt for the qualifiers in August.

“It shows the depth that we have got in there and its becoming very difficult for Staj (Alen Stajcic) to pick the team. In the past we-ve never had this sort of depth.

“The other thing is there is a mix of age groups in that team and I think there are 3 or 4 that are eligible for the 17-s as well.

“The German team we played were all 1990-s, while in the second group (Young Matildas) we played in the second game against Finland there was actually only two players in that starting team that are not eligible for the next Youth Cup; we mainly had players that were born in 92 and 93.

“So there is some depth and some good young players who are also holding their own against players a couple years older and that isn-t easy in that age group.”