Australian women’s football team unfazed by Japan

Edmonton, June 26 (IANS) The Australian women’s football team’s horror draw at the World Cup continues when they take on reigning champions Japan here on Sunday.

Having already progressed from the ‘group of death’ which included former World Cup finalists Sweden and the US as well as African champs Nigeria, the ‘Matildas’ also pulled off an unlikely upset to defeat powerhouse Brazil in their Round of 16 match earlier this week, reports Xinhua.

Japan won the 2011 World Cup and are ranked fourth in the world but for Australia’s coach Alen Stajcic it’s just another chance for the Matildas to prove their mettle.

“If we take our current form, confidence and belief into this game, there’s no reason why we can’t take it to them like we have to every other team so far,” Stajcic said.

Stajcic said his squad has learned from the Asian Cup matches his team played against Japan nearly 12 months ago. The Matildas drew with the ‘Nadeshiko’ 2-2 in a group match before falling to them in the final 0-1.

“If we can play to our potential we can match the world champions. Certainly we can beat them this time around. We’ve grown a lot since then, both on and off the field,” he said.

He said mental fatigue wasn’t an issue despite playing some of the world’s best teams in the early stages of the tournament. He believes that Australia is one of the dangerous teams to watch and other nations are beginning to sit up and take notice of what the Matildas have achieved in this tournament.

“What has happened in the past few games is the belief becomes real. You can always have belief and confidence before you go into a tournament or go into a game but before you go into games, you know you can compete with the best in the world and beat them like we have with all the teams,” Stajcic said.

“There were periods in all the games we dominated every team, even that game we lost against the US. The belief is now real, so the players know that if they play to their best that we can be better than anyone in the world. Our goal is to be in the top two-three in the world and there’s no better place to start than the current world champions.”

The winner will progress to the semifinals against either hosts Canada or surprise quarterfinalists England, also to be played here, on July 1.

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