Battle-weary but in good spirits, the Westfield Matildas returned to the training pitch in Edmonton today ahead of Sunday’s (AEST) FIFA Women’s World Cup quarter-final.
Coach Alen Stajcic has five full days to prepare his fearless troops for another massive challenge against reigning world champions Japan.
Most of the side that disposed of Brazil on Monday were eased through the session to help aid their recovery and make sure they are in peak condition come the weekend.
While they have come through four grueling matches so far, the Matildas have the benefit of a full two days extra rest than their quarter-final opponent.
Given the huge amount of travel they have had to do and the change in time difference from Moncton to Edmonton, every extra minute will count.
“It’s always easier coming back. The time difference isn’t that bad, you can get to sleep a little bit earlier - that’s worked in our favour and the weather here is just awesome,” playmaker Katrina Gorry told reporters on Wednesday (AEST).
“Rest and recovery is the most important thing about backing up.
“It’s kind of a tight space still and playing another awesome team it’s going to be tough to back up.
“But we have all our medical staff helping us out and we’ll be ready to go.”
Gorry was surprisingly left on the bench for the second round clash with Brazil, but made a telling impact when called on in the last 20 minutes.
It was her defence-splitting pass that allowed Lisa De Vanna to get off a shot, with the rebound eventually slammed home by Kyah Simon.
Asked about her involvement in the crucial goal, Gorry said: “I have seen it quite a few times. It’s something I was working on in the training session before the game and I’m glad it turned out in the game.
“I saw Lisa on the run and in a foot race she’ll beat anyone.
“I just knew I had to play the ball through and she would finish it off.”
Gorry, last year’s AFC Women’s player of the year, is expected to come back into the starting XI for the quarter-final.
While she hasn’t been at her devastating best at this tournament, her contribution against Brazil underlines her importance to the Matildas’ hopes of making the semi-finals.
She says the side have grown in confidence after toppling the South American heavyweights but feels they need to find a new gear to keep going at the tournament.
“We’ve still got to build on that performance [against Brazil], there’s a few things we still need to work on,” Gorry said.
“We’ll try and bring that into the next game but we’ve got a few days to recover and prepare.
“We’ll be coming out firing in the quarter final and be ready.
“It’s good to see Australia is getting behind us and finally seeing what we’re actually capable of and what we’re doing in the World Cup,” she added.
“A lot of people have always known what we’re capable of but to see it against such great teams such as Sweden, USA, Nigeria and then against Brazil, it really boosts the confidence people have in us and it will be great to take it into the quarter-finals.”