Matildas start building for 2011 World Cup

Matildas coach Tom Sermanni will start the long process towards the 2011 Women’s World Cup, with several new players to be tested in the two-match series against China next week.

Matildas coach Tom Sermanni will start the long process towards the 2011 Women-s World Cup, with several new players to be tested in the two-match series against China next week.

With a host of seasoned internationals unavailable for the short tour because of injury, overseas playing commitments and personal reasons, the likes of young players such as Victoria Balomenos, Servet Uzunlar, Brooke Spence, Leena Khamis, Ellen Beaumont and Renee Rollason will get their chance to press their claims for more regular game time with the senior national team.

The team left yesterday for China, where they will play the Olympic hosts in Tianjin on the 6th and 9th July, which the Chinese are using as preparation matches for the Olympic Games, which Australia did not qualify for.

Only five players from the 2007 World Cup squad will make this tour and Sermanni admits that the squad is likely to go through somewhat of a transition phase over the next year or so.

“Yes very much so, but more a transition phase brought in not necessarily by design,” Sermanni said on whether the team will go through a transition period. “We-ve got players overseas; players injured and other players unavailable, so in a roundabout way the transition stage that we thought would be gradual has taken up at a far greater pace than we anticipated.

“I think what we are now seeing and what we saw at the Peace Cup, is the start of our preparation for the 2011 World Cup and it-s taking shape now.

“That-s the nature of football at times. When players become unavailable or injured it opens up opportunities for other players. We-ve seen that a few times this year already and I think it will be great for those young players and new players to come into the squad and see how they shape up.”

Sermanni admits he is not sure what to expect from these new players, but is confident they will fit into the team quite well, with all of them having played for the Young Matildas and being involved with the state-based institute programs.

“I don-t know; it will be interesting to find out,” Sermanni said of his expectations for these players. “One thing that I found with these young players now, is regardless of who comes in and how inexperienced or young they might be, they have always stepped up to the plate and not taken a backward step in any of the games that we have played and that-s very much a great Australian trait.

“We know all the players that are coming into the squad and we will take it for granted that these players will be able to that again, because I am very confident they will. They have all been in our system for sometime, so it-s not like they are coming in and don-t know anybody or intimidated by the environment. The good thing we have is a very interactive and intertwined environment between the states and the national teams and I think the players now come into the national team, knowing everybody and are quite comfortable.

“So I am confident that the newer players will do well.”

Sermanni will also use the trip to find out who are potential leaders of the future, with midfielder Lauren Colthorpe one player in particular, who Sermanni believes, the young players should look at what can be achieved if you work hard.

Colthorpe-s now become a regular starter in the team after coming to prominence at last year-s World Cup and will be looking at her to be a leader on this tour.

“That-s what you notice when the team starts to change over, is that the roles start to change. You have someone like Lauren Colthorpe, who got established in the team after sort chipping away for two and half years of being in and out of the squad. She got her opportunity at the World Cup last year and stepped up and she has really taken big steps forward.

“So coming into these two particular games, she now suddenly, from being one of the young and upcoming players in the team, is now one of our senior players. In fact of the 18 field players that went to the World Cup last year, there are only five (Colthorpe, Jo Burgess, Caitlin Munoz, Kate McShea, Clare Polkinghorne) taking part in these games so all five will need to step up and take some leadership roles.

China though will be a tough test for the Matildas, who are coming off the back of finishing runners-up at the recent Asian Women-s Cup tournament (Matildas finished fourth) in Vietnam.

“China will be two very, very tough and difficult games,” he said. “They are full steam ahead; full time for the Olympics and have had a lot of games this year and had success at the Asian Cup.

“But that-s good; its better than going in expecting two easy games and it will be a real test for some of these players to actually see first hand what-s its like to play at the highest level of women-s international football. So in many ways these are two terrific games for them.”

After the two-match series in China, the Matildas will then return to Australia and feature in a double-header with the Australian Olympic Men-s football team on Saturday July 12 against their New Zealand counterparts. The matches will be played at North Sydney Oval with the Matildas kicking off at 12 noon and followed by the Olyroos at 2pm.