Women's Olympic squad named
Qantas Matildas coach Tom Sermanni has announced a 20-strong squad to travel to Chinese Taipei this week for the first stage of qualifying for the 2008 Olympics. The team 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.
Qantas Matildas coach Tom Sermanni has announced a 20-strong squad to travel to Chinese Taipei this week for the first stage of qualifying for the 2008 Olympics.
The team 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.
Notable selections include Thea Slatyer who returns to the national team for the first time since the AFC Women-s Asian Championship in July after a lengthy absence through injury, and 20-year-old striker Sasha McDonnell who debuted for the Qantas Matildas against Japan last November in the team-s final match of 2006.
Unavailable through injury are last year-s Qantas Young Matildas captain Sally Shipard plus goalkeeper Lydia Williams, while striker Lisa De Vanna, currently playing in England, will also be absent.
The team will depart for Chinese Taipei on Saturday with the first match to be played against Myanmar on February 21, to be followed by further matches against Uzbekistan on February 23 and the host nation on February 25.
The top two teams in the four-team group will progress to the final stage of qualifying and another four team group where DPR Korea await as a seeded team. The final stage of qualifying will be held between April and August with only the top team to progress to the 2008 Olympic Games.
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 failed to qualify for the initial women-s Olympic football tournament in 1996.
The Qantas Matildas concluded preparations last week with a seven-day camp in Canberra with the team recording 6-0 and 1-0 wins over New Zealand in two training matches.
“The squad is looking forward to the start of the qualifying campaign and whilst we potentially will have a long and competitive road to qualify, our focus at the moment is purely on this stage of qualification,” said Qantas Matildas coach Tom Sermanni.
“Last week-s camp in Canberra was very fruitful and allowed the squad to work on some cohesion after a lengthy break since our last international.
“The competition within the squad is getting tougher with a number of senior players within the group now, plus a good number of talented youngsters pressing for places which has greatly helped the depth within the squad.”
The Qantas Matildas squad for Stage 1 of the AFC Olympic Qualifying tournament in Chinese Taipei, February 21-25 is:
Goalkeepers - Melissa Barbieri (Melbourne), Emma Wirkus (Adelaide)
Defenders - Di Alagich (Sydney), 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), Lana Harch (Brisbane), Collette McCallum (Perth), Joanne Peters (Newcastle), Danielle Small (Sydney)
Forwards - Kate Gill (Newcastle), Sasha McDonnell (Brisbane), Caitlin Munoz (Canberra), Sarah Walsh (Sydney) (* current home city)
Wednesday 21 February
4pm (7pm AEST) Australia v Myanmar 6pm Chinese Taipei v Uzbekistan
Friday 23 February
4pm (7pm AEST) Uzbekistan v Australia 6pm Myanmar v Chinese Taipei
Sunday 25 February
2pm Uzbekistan v Myanmar 4pm (7pm AEST) Chinese Taipei v Australia
Venue - Chungshan Stadium, Kaohslung, Chinese Taipei
Australia have already qualified for the 2007 FIFA Women-s World Cup also to be held in China, September 10-30.