Algarve Cup preview: Westfield Matildas vs Norway

History beckons for the Westfield Matildas as they eye a fast start to an important 2018 in their opening Algarve Cup match against Norway.

Fans will be tuning in to see whether the team and superstar striker Sam Kerr can both carry on their dazzling displays of last year.

But with new faces in the squad - and the AFC Women's Asian Cup on the horizon - there are plenty of incentives not to be satisfied by what has already been achieved.

This is the first of four outings they will have in Portugal, with each of the 12 teams in attendance to play a 'placement match' following their three group fixtures.


Estadio Municipal de Albufeira, Portugal

Wednesday 28 February (Thursday 29 February AEDT)

Kick-Off: 6:30pm local (5:30am AEDT)


These teams haven't faced each other since a memorable clash in the group stage of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.

Kyah Simon's twin strikes helped Australia overcome a deficit to win that match 2-1, dumping Norway out of the tournament.

It was the last of five meetings between the nations and remains the Westfield Matildas' only victory.

Norway enjoyed the early run of results, winning all three between 1988 and 1997.

But the trend began to turn at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup when Lisa De Vanna hit a sensational late equaliser in a crucial 1-1 draw.

Lisa De Vanna
Lisa De Vanna was on target in the 2007 encounter.


Alen Stajcic's attacking depth will be tested after Kyah Simon, Caitlin Foord and Emily Gielnik all picked up injuries late in the Westfield W-League season.

While it's hoped the trio will return for the AFC Women's Asian Cup in April, the door has been opened to youngsters Alex Chidiac and Rachel Lowe.

Hannah Brewer is back in the squad for the first time in four years and, alongside the uncapped Emily Condon, will be pressing for regular selection.

The pair should get plenty of minutes with injuries potentially also ruling Hayley Raso and Steph Catley out of match action.

Expect plenty of rotation during the tournament as Stajcic explores his options.

Alex Chidiac
Alex Chidiac has the chance to add to her four caps.


Australia: 4

Norway: 14


Norway are likely to provide the stiffest test Australia will face in Group A.

Win this opening match and the path to the final - and an improvement on last year's fourth-placed finish - will be cleared.

Admittedly, results aren't the overarching focus of this tournament as the squad focuses squarely on the best possible preparation for the Asian Cup.

But there is still plenty at stake for this current crop of Westfield Matildas, who are attempting to set a new national team record of eight successive victories.

Maintaining that winning culture will undoubtedly be handy come April, and again at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.

A mammoth 18 months starts here.

Sam Kerr