Juric confident for qualification campaign

Westfield Young Matildas coach Ante Juric says he is optimistic for the side’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup qualification hopes following their recent performances in Vietnam.

The Aussies returned home from the preliminary qualifiers of the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship with a perfect record, boasting 28 goals scored with none conceded. The Westfield Young Matildas saw off Hong Kong (6-0), Singapore (19-0) and hosts Vietnam (3-0) to reach next year’s continental championship.

While the opposition was of varying quality, Juric says the tour has proven the team are on the right path. “Firstly, the games in themselves were of course beneficial,” he said. “Secondly there were a few things I put in place in terms of culture of the team. We tried to, in what you could say is this new era, set a few standards and the players all responded well which was super pleasing.

“What really helped was the fitness of the players compared to the 16s (who recently were eliminated by Korea Republic in the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship). These girls have been training with their W-League clubs in most instances, and were fit so I didn’t have to focus on game fitness.”

Australia now progress along with Iran, Uzbekistan and Thailand to next August’s AFC U-19 Championship in Nanjing, China. The qualifying quartet will join Korea Republic, DPR Korea, China, and Japan with three tickets on offer to the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Jordan.

“The girls have got a good chance,” Juric says of next year’s battle for World Cup qualification. “This squad is a good one, not just a good XI, with most of the squad playing in the W-League. It will be hard, mainly because of preparation. Most of the other countries prepare a bit more. It will be tough, but I’m confident.”

The 23-strong squad featured 18 players with Westfield W-League experience with Sydney FC’s Amy Harrison, Brisbane Roar’s Larissa Crummer and Melbourne Victory’s Emma Checker among the more well-known names. Juric says although he was impressed with the whole group Victory’s Beattie Goad stood out with her performances on the left flank.

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