Heyman eyes opening group clash with Canada

Centre forward Michelle Heyman says Australia's clash with Germany will be a huge test but she's fully focused on the first group game of the Games against another dangerous opponent Canada.

Australia faces a challengng task of progressing out of the Group Stage at the Games after being drawn against 2015 World Cup semi-finalists Germany and world number 10 Canada.

The Aussies will be expected to dispose of Zimbabwe in the other game but Heyman isn’t looking past the side’s opening fixtures.

“Seeing Canada play in the world cup was amazing. They have some great players, while they don’t have any big standout ones they are all well-known and fit and very good,” Heyman told thematildas.footballaustralia.com.au 

“Germany on the other hand are just machines. Hopefully the way we play can stop them. If we can break up their play in the top third and if they can’t get out of their backline then we’re doing our job right.

“If we focus on what we’re good at then definitely I think we’re going to give everyone a run for their money.”

Matildas striker Michelle Heyman

Now 28, the 48-cap international is one of the more experienced players in a youthful Australian squad and will play a pivotal role as Alen Stajcic’s side vie for a medal at the Rio Games.

Heyman netted three goals in Australia’s unbeaten qualifying campaign earlier this year and is determined to make the most of her opportunity in Brazil after missing out on the 2012 Games in London.

“I want to come home with a medal. This is my dream, it’s my only chance of reaching it and this is all I have ever wanted. So to not come home with it would be heartbreak. I really believe that we’ve got this,” she said.

“I was in the squad’s that missed out before so we know what it feels like to not make it and now if we were to not come home with a medal it would be another heartbreak to add to the list.”

Heyman always thought she would be going to the Games. But for the dynamic Australia striker it was athletics, not football, that she once hoped could propel her onto the world stage.

“When I was little I thought I would go to the Games as a sprinter. I always loved to win and thought it was something I could do.

“I was killing it when I was little so I thought athletics would be easy.”

Michelle Heyman runs off to celebrate her goal in the game against Japan on Monday night.

Yet as she excelled in one sport, another unexpectedly became the focus.

“I started playing soccer when I was about 11 and that took over. I’ve never stopped. Originally I thought it would just be something fun but now it’s my life,” said Heyman, who plays for Canberra United in Australia's W-League. 

And that choice is one she will forever be grateful for.

The Shellharbour-born striker has developed into one of Australia’s most dangerous attackers and is the all-time leading scorer in the W-League.

She has twice won the W-League Golden Boot award (2009 and 2011/12) and was part of the Australian squad for the 2014 Asian Cup and 2015 FIFA World Cup.

Not bad for someone who only took up football at age 11.