Sermanni makes two changes for final match

Qantas Matildas coach Tom Sermanni will make several changes to the starting line-up for the final of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup final against China at Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide. Coming into the side are Kate McShea for Thea Slatyer and Alicia Ferguson replacing Rhian Davies.

Qantas Matildas coach Tom Sermanni will make several changes to the starting line-up for the final of the AFC Women-s Asian Cup final against China at Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide.

Sermanni has been forced to shift his defence around with Thea Slatyer succumbing to a knee injury and will be replaced by Kate McShea, which has also forced a tactical switch with Alicia Ferguson coming in for Rhian Davies.

Also unavailable for the clash is tall striker Kate Gill, who has failed to recover from an ankle injury that she sustained in the match against Thailand. Slatyer will have a further scan tomorrow to see whether she has sustained any damage to the cartilage in her knee.

The starting line-up will be: Melissa Barbieri (gk); Di Alagich, Kate McShea, Cheryl Salisbury (c), Heather Garriock, Alicia Ferguson, Jo Peters, Sally Shipard, Collette McCallum, Caitlin Munoz, Sarah Walsh

“We have been forced to make several changes,” said a relaxed Sermanni. “These are due in part to Thea-s injury and a tactical change, which see-s Di (Alagich) move back into defence, with Kate McShea coming in for Rhian and Alicia Ferguson into midfield.”

“Rhian is somewhat unlucky to miss out because she had a terrific game on Thursday, but with Di moving back into defence after her marking role against Japan, we needed Kate to balance the defence with Thea-s injury.”

The game represents unchartered territory for the Matildas, who are playing in their first major tournament final, and Sermanni admits he is not sure what to expect.

“We are going into new territory as we have never played in a major tournament final and having to play so many pressure games,” he said.

“I suppose this is the question mark, this being our 6th game in 14 days and of the five played so far, three have been high pressure games. This can take a toll, but you can never really tell how things will pan out.

“What I do know, is that the players are really focussed and will be up for it when they get on the field. We had a team meeting tonight and they really want to win this tournament.

“We will not be satisfied until we win it.”

Sermanni is also not concerned that his team has played one more game then the Chinese and believes they have had a tougher run.

“We started on the 16th and they didn-t play their first game until the 19th, by which time we had already played two games. So they have actually played more games in less time leading into the final.

“China also has seven of their outfield players that have played almost every minute of their games, so it will be interesting to see how these players will back up after a taxing game on Thursday night against North Korea.

“We on the other hand have been able to give our players a significant rest at some stage in the tournament.”

The Matildas most recent meetings against China, came just last month, with China winning both games. Sermanni though is not reading too much into the losses, given the difficulties they faced on the brief tour.

“We are playing the same team and the same system and to be honest, we more than held them in both games under difficult circumstances.

“We didn-t have our full squad and then I had to leave the tour before the second game for personal reasons, but we managed to play well and probably came out of it with even more confidence despite the results.”

Sermanni believes another factor could play into their hands during the match that being a vocal home crowd behind them and has urged the Adelaide public to continue to show its support for the girls during the final.

“The support and coverage they have being getting has really lifted them and I know they would love to see a big crowd on hand to witness what could be Australia-s first win in a major AFC tournament.

“To be honest, they deserve it.”

The final kicks off at 3.30pm (4.00pm EST), with a full live update of the match on