A season spent working in the “best training environment” at Westfield W-League Premiers Melbourne City has helped take Emily van Egmond’s game to new heights.
That’s the opinion of the Westfield Matildas star herself as she prepares for Friday night’s Women’s Olympic Football Qualifier against Vietnam in her hometown of Newcastle.
Ante Milicic’s squad take on the world no.32 ranked Vietnam over two legs, with the winner to book their spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Van Egmond played a decisive role to get the Westfield Matildas to this point, with her stoppage-time equaliser against China last month ensuring Australia topped their qualifying group.
It came after the 26-year-old scored a hat-trick in the drubbing of Thailand, while she also had three assists in the win over Chinese Taipei.
Van Egmond has also been a star for City in the Westfield W-League, with her side going through the entire regular season unbeaten as they cruised to the Premiership last month.
"I'm enjoying my football. Having a really good time down in Melbourne at the moment. We've got a great team," van Egmond told reporters in Newcastle on Tuesday.
"Training's super competitive every day. That'll obviously put you in good stead to come into an environment such as the national team.
"Again you come into the national team and it's the best training environment you can have in Australia.
“I’m looking forward to the game on Friday and I know the girls are too.”
Van Egmond took time out from training with the Westfield Matildas on Tuesday to join the Lord Mayor of Newcastle - Nuatali Nelmes - to discuss the first leg of the playoffs on Friday night.
The Westfield Matildas will be chasing a big win in front of a healthy crowd at McDonald Jones Stadium to ensure they head to Vietnam for the second leg with a buffer.
“This is a big game for us. We obviously want to make a statement here on home soil,” van Egmond said.
“The last time I played here in Newcastle with the Matildas we had a fantastic crowd.
“It’s such a nice feeling to score an international goal against anyone, no matter where it is,” she added.
“Obviously playing here is a special moment for me in front of family and friends and to be back in Newcastle of course but the win is super important to us and the girls know we have to come out on Friday night and get [the win].”
Asked about the challenge of taking on Vietnam, van Egmond said: "They're not a top 10 team but we're going to take it as a top 10 team.
"You saw when we played against Chinese Taipei, Thailand and China how well women's football is progressing so you can't take anyone lightly.”
Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Play-Off Round
Australia v Vietnam (Home Leg)
Date: Friday, 6 March 2020
Kick-off: 6.30pm AEDT
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, ABC iview (delayed on ABC TV) and the My Football Live App
The match will also be streamed LIVE on YouTube for viewers outside of Australia and Vietnam
ON SALE: Tickets for final Tokyo 2020 play-off – Westfield Matildas v Vietnam
Vietnam v Australia (Away Leg)
Date: Wednesday, 11 March 2020
Kick-off: 6.00pm local; 10pm AEDT
Venue: Cẩm Phả Stadium, Cẩm Phả, Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam