Matildas are going to World Cup, but need to find Asian inspiration

Japan is Australia's great Asian rival.

Ranked 11th in the world. Former world champions. And the side that eliminated the Matildas in the last World Cup and defeated them in the last Asian Cup final.

Thailand are continental easybeats.

The Matildas put five past them in a lead-up match for the Asian Cup last month in Perth, and it could have been 10.

The Thais haven't been this deep in a tournament for 30 years, progressing courtesy of a much easier group.

Sam Kerr cuts through Thailand.

Photo: Tony McDonough

For Stajcic, the trick is to not focus on the opponent.

"There's no complacency on our part," he told AAP.

"I've been around football long enough to know you can win 5-0 one day and lose 2-0 the next to the same team.

"We treat everyone the same whether they're America or Thailand or Vietnam or Japan.

"The pre-match prep. The video analysis of ourselves and our opposition. Everything we need to do to make sure we hit the ground running on the first minute will be done."

The Matildas found themselves in a precarious position against Japan.

When Mizuho Sakaguchi scored the opener, the Matildas had less than half an hour to score – or be knocked out of the Asian Cup.

Sam Kerr's equaliser ensured Australia's progression – and showed the squad's character.

The result ensured a fourth-straight group stage success for Australia, a sign of maturity and consistency.


The Matildas also finished up top of their group at the last two Algarve Cups and last year's breakthrough Tournament of Nations success.

Now it's about finding knockout format success, which begins with Thailand and could end up against China or Japan in Saturday morning's (AEST) final.

Beyond "a few niggles", Stajcic said Australia had just one injury concern, Hayley Raso, who has a knee injury and faces a month on the sidelines.


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