Reigning AFC Women’s Asian Cup Champions, the Westfield Matildas, will play two matches against New Zealand prior to taking on World Champions Japan in a one-off match in Tokyo in July.
The Japan match, scheduled for July 11, will be played at the National Stadium, Tokyo, prior to Japan’s involvement in the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Japan currently have the upper hand over the Westfield Matildas following their 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final triumph over the USA and subsequent win over the Westfield Matildas in last September’s Olympic qualifiers in China.
However with recent results even between the two highly rated Asian nations, following the Westfield Matildas notable 1-nil win over Japan on the way to winning the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2010, the match should be closely contested.
The Westfield Matildas are hopeful they will be able to call on their entire squad of players for the Japan match (not a current FIFA date) including stars Kyah Simon and Tameka Butt (both Boston Breakers), Lisa De Vanna (Linköping FC), Aivi Luik and Michelle Heyman (both Brøndby IF), Sally Shipard (Bayer Leverkusen), Emily van Egmond (Western New York Flash), Servet Uzunlar (Pali Blues) and Collette McCallum and Laura Alleway (Lincoln Ladies).
This will be the 20th meeting between the sides with the Top 10 ranked Westfield Matildas head-to-head currently sitting at five wins, seven draws and seven losses to the number 3 ranked Japan.
Prior to this match the Westfield Matildas will play two matches against New Zealand’s Football Ferns at WIN Stadium in Wollongong on 24 and 27 June.
The matches continue the trans-Tasman tradition, with Australia hoping to build on their impressive form against the Football Ferns following 2-1 and 3-nil wins against the side in May.
Local ace and 2011 AFC Young Player of the Year Caitlin Foord is highly anticipating the upcoming schedule of matches following a four month break since the end of the Westfield W-League season.
“I can’t wait to get back out playing again for the Matildas,” said Foord.
“Japan are such an amazing team, it will be a real test for us and it will be great to play the World Champions in Tokyo.
“I scored my first international goal on debut against New Zealand last year so I’m looking forward to playing them again and hopefully getting another one.”
Westfield Matildas Head Coach Tom Sermanni will have his hands full juggling two vastly different team for the upcoming matches with the New Zealand matches set to test many of the young players coming through the development system.
“Basically we will have two almost entirely different teams for these matches,” said Sermanni.
“With a huge number of our girls playing overseas the matches against New Zealand will give a lot of the younger girls a chance to play as well as see the return of Kate Gill who is in full training now following her knee injury.
“The Westfield W-League this year again produced some excellent players and it will be very interesting to see who pushes their way into selection for the New Zealand matches.
“The team that will travel to Japan will be vastly different and will come in from their respective teams internationally along with some of the locally based girls.”
Kick off times for all matches are will be announced in the coming weeks.
The match in Tokyo will be played as a double header with the Japan U23 Men’s Olympic team playing New Zealand.