Ghana is a must win game says Sermanni

Australia’s opening match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup against Ghana on Wednesday night, is a must win game if they are to advance past the group stage of the tournament, according to Matildas coach Tom Sermanni.

Australia-s opening match of the FIFA Women-s World Cup against Ghana on Wednesday night, is a must win game if they are to advance past the group stage of the tournament, according to Matildas coach Tom Sermanni.

On the back of two impressive wins against World Cup host nation China under a month ago, the expectations among the group are high and Sermanni has made it clear that anything less than a win against Ghana, will make it difficult from here on.

Ghana has proven somewhat of bogey team for the Matildas at the last two World Cup-s in the USA, drawing 1-1 in 1999 and then losing 2-1 in 2003. Sermanni is confident they can go one better this time around.

“I think we have the players and the team to win the game,” said a quietly confident Sermanni, from the team base in China. “I think we have shown over the last two years, we-ve got a team that is capable of scoring goals against any team in the world.

“If we keep our structure and discipline good, then we will create chances against a team like Ghana and score goals.”

Sermanni faces different challenges in all three games, from a tactical point of view and believes the Ghanaians, are much like their male counterparts in that will be unpredictable when on the ball, but tactically can be exploited.

“Probably expect some unpredictability,” he responded when asked, what we can expect from Ghana. “I am expecting them to be quick; expecting them to be skilful.

“If they have any weaknesses, it might be in concentration and a little bit in organisation and we feel if we can keep a bit of structure about our play we can perhaps exploit that.”

A win will have the Matildas well placed for a top-two finish, with tougher matches expected against world number 3 Norway and then, what most believe, the battle to decide the second team through to the second round against Canada.

It will also relieve some pressure built up over three World Cups, with the Matildas never having previously won at match at a World Cup finals. The best results have been two draws.

“I think it will ease the pressure, but I don-t the team are concerned about the pressure of not having won a game at a World Cup or not having beaten Ghana,” Sermanni said. “Most of this team haven-t been involved in those games, so that won-t be so much of a pressure.

“I think what we will be doing is looking to get off to a positive start, because we feel if we can win this first game that really sets us up to qualify from the group.”

Since arriving in China the squad has trained well and Sermanni goes into the match, without any injury concerns.

“It-s going really well,” he said of the preparations. “Everyone is full fit; full healthy in training; they are working hard and working well.

“The heat is not too bad; we expected it to be a lot worse than it is. We had our familiarisation session on the ground at 5pm (kick-off time Chinese time) and it was actually quite pleasant, so hopefully it will stay that way tomorrow.”

With a full squad at his disposal, Sermanni named a very strong starting line-up that he expects to score goals.

Australia starting line-up

“We have a very strong, competitive squad and I think this line-up is symptomatic of that. We-ve got potent players in midfield that can score goals, we-ve got two attackers that obviously been scoring goals at the highest level; we-ve got good passers of the ball and at the back we-ve got the experience players the youthful, physical qualities of a young player (Clare Polkinghorne), who will be making her World Cup debut.

“We also have got players capable of coming off the bench and scoring goals and igniting the game like Kate Gill, Lisa De Vanna, Joey Burgess and Danielle Small, all players who have scored at this level.

However one of the biggest things that Sermanni believes is a big benefit going into the match is the belief that is instilled within the group.

“There is a belief within this team that we are capable of coming in here and doing well in this tournament and surprising some people. It-s a quiet confidence about how we have been going out there and doing our job and in the last few training sessions the team has looked really up to speed and played at a good tempo.

“So we are going into the game, fully healthy, with a good degree of confidence and if we can take that across the white line, I think we can do okay.”

The match against Ghana can be seen live on SBS, with kick-off at 7pm and the telecast starting at 6.50pm. There will also be a live score link from the home page directly to the official Women's World Cup site.