Qantas Matildas face tough path to Beijing

The Qantas Matildas will need to get past Asian women’s heavyweights DPR (North) Korea if they are qualify for the Beijing Women’s Olympic Football Tournament. DPR are the 7th highest ranked Asian nation in the FIFA women’s world rankings.

The Qantas Matildas will need to get Asian women-s heavyweights DPR (North) Korea if they are qualify for the Beijing Women-s Olympic Football Tournament. DPR are the 7th highest ranked Asian nation in the FIFA women-s world rankings.

Australia has been drawn against Chinese Taipei, Myanmar and Uzbekistan in the first stage of qualifying. Should they progress to the final round they will need to finish first in a group containing seeded team DPR Korea.

The Koreans are not only the highest-ranked Asian nation but earlier this month were crowned U-20 World Champions.

Australia played out a highly competitive scoreless draw when the two nations most recently met at the AFC Women-s Asian Championship in July. Australia-s second-place finish at the tournament ensured the Qantas Matildas, along with DPR Korea, qualified for the 2007 FIFA Women-s World Cup, also to be played in China.

“It is undoubtedly a tough draw, though Asian women-s football is particularly strong, so we knew it was always going to be a difficult path regardless of the result of the draw,” said Qantas Matildas coach Tom Sermanni.

“Myanmar proved a very awkward opponent to overcome in Adelaide, while Chinese Taipei were also competitive at times and, at the moment, we have little knowledge of Uzbekistan to work on.

“Assuming that we can progress past the first round, the second stage of qualification will be extremely difficult and it-s probably the least favourable draw we could possibly have received given it will likely include both Korean nations.

“It-s a little surprising that both teams qualifying teams from Group C meet again in the final round rather than be spread across the two groups.

"It perhaps would also have been fairer if the final round draw had been held following the completion of the first round, given that some teams may know part way through their match schedule what set of results will see them into a certain group in the next stage.

The Qantas Matildas will also commence their qualifiers in February and will potentially play a total of 12 matches to qualify for Beijing.

The first round will be held at a centralised venue in February in three groups of four meaning three matches for each participating nation. However should there be no host for the group, participating teams will be compete in home and away fixtures meaning a total of six matches.

The final stage of qualifying will be two groups of four with the group winners only to progress to the Olympic Games for the 12-nation women-s football tournament which has been expanded from a ten-tournament.

Qantas Matildas path to Beijing (China)

Round 1 (Qualification Round) 12 nations in a 3 groups of four in a centralized venue. First and second in each group qualify for next round.

Australia's group Group C: Chinese Taipei, Australia, Myanmar, Uzbekistan

Remaining groups Group A: Korea Republic, Hong Kong, Jordan, India Group B: Thailand, Maldives, Singapore, Vietnam

Round 1 Match dates February 17-25

Round 2 (Final Round) Japan and DPR Korea seeded into the final round. Two groups of four, home and away matches. First nation in each group qualifies for 2008 Beijing Olympics (China).

Group A: Japan, Winner B, Runner up A, Runner up B Group B: DPR Korea, Winner A, Winner C, Runner up C

Round 2 Match Dates April 7, April 15, June 3, June 10, August 4, August 12