Near full-strength squad for Hong Kong clash
Matildas coach Tom Sermanni has announced a near full-strength squad for the team’s opening home Beijing Olympic qualifying match against Hong Kong on Saturday at the BCU International Stadium in Coffs Harbour.
Matildas coach Tom Sermanni has announced a near full-strength squad for the team-s opening home Beijing Olympic qualifying match against Hong Kong on Saturday at the BCU International Stadium in Coffs Harbour.
The Matildas will again be led by long-serving captain Cheryl Salisbury, who along with Dianne Alagich and Heather Garriock, will be looking to appear in their third consecutive Olympics.
Young Matildas striker and Coffs Harbour resident Jenna Tristram has received her first call-up to the senior team and is the only uncapped player in the 20-strong squad.
Absent through injury are midfielder Sally Shipard (foot) and striker Caitlin Munoz (knee).
Australia are grouped with seeded team DPR Korea (North Korea) as well as Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei. The other qualifying group consists of seeded-team Japan, plus Korea Republic, Thailand and Vietnam.
The qualifying matches will be held between April and August with only the top team in each group to progress to the 2008 Olympic Games.
DPR Korea are Asia-s highest ranked team listed at 5 on the FIFA Women-s World Rankings, while Australia are now ranked at an all-time high of 14.
Australia easily navigated through the first stage of qualifying in February defeating Myanmar, Uzbekistan and Chinese Taipei.
Australia was eliminated in the group stage after qualifying as host nation in 2000, while three years ago in Greece the team narrowly failed to reach the medal round losing 2-1 in their quarter final against Sweden. Australia did not qualify for the initial women-s Olympic football tournament in 1996.
“It is very important to commence the campaign on the right note and whilst we obviously will be looking for three points, we will also be looking to build on our cohesion ahead of the remaining group matches,” said Matildas coach Tom Sermanni.
“We will certainly not be taking our opponents lightly given their impressive result in overcoming South Korea last month.
“Everyone within the squad is looking forward to playing and training at the excellent facilities on offer in Coffs Harbour.”
Australia have already qualified for the 2007 FIFA Women-s World Cup also to be held in China, September 10-30.
The Qantas Matildas squad for the opening Olympic qualifying home match v Hong Kong on Saturday is:
Goalkeepers - Melissa Barbieri (Melbourne), Lydia Williams (Canberra), Emma Wirkus (Adelaide)
Defenders - Di Alagich (Sydney), Kim Carroll (Brisbane), Rhian Davies (Sydney), Heather Garriock (Sydney), Kate McShea (Brisbane), Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane), Karla Reuter (Newcastle), Cheryl Salisbury (Newcastle), Thea Slatyer (Sydney)
Midfielders - Joanne Burgess (Sydney), Lauren Colthorpe (Newcastle), Collette McCallum (Perth), Joanne Peters (Newcastle), Danielle Small (Sydney)
Forwards - Kate Gill (Newcastle), Jenna Tristram (Coffs Harbour), Sarah Walsh (Sydney) (* current home city)
The 18-strong squad will travel to Chinese Taipei on Wednesday 11 April for the second qualifying match in Taiwan on Sunday 15 April.
Australia v Hong Kong Saturday 7 April, 3pm BCU International Stadium, Coffs Harbour
Chinese Taipei v Australia Sunday 15 April, 4pm Chungshan Stadium, Kaohslung, Chinese Taipei
DPR Korea v Australia Sunday 3 June Venue TBC
Australia v North Korea Sunday 10 June, 3pm BCU International Stadium, Coffs Harbour
Hong Kong v Australia Saturday 4 August Venue TBC
Australia v Chinese Taipei Sunday 12 August, 3pm BCU International Stadium, Coffs Harbour
Tickets are available from Coffs Harbour City Council-s central ticketing system, located at the Jetty Memorial Theatre, phone: 02 6652 8088 Mon-Fri 10.00am - 4.00pm, online via http://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au or at the gate on match day.
SBS will show highlights of the Matildas match against Hong Kong in “The World Game” on Sunday 8 April with LIVE coverage of the team-s matches against North Korea on Sunday 10 June and Chinese Taipei on Sunday 12 August. Both LIVE matches will be shown as “The World Game” weekly Football Feature from 3:00pm.