Kennedy excited about 'special' Westfield Matildas reunion for Chile series

Alanna Kennedy cannot wait to get the band back together as the Westfield Matildas unite for the first time since the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019™.

Ante Milicic’s roster have joined together in camp ahead of a two-match series against Chile on Saturday, 9 November at Bankwest Stadium, Sydney, and Tuesday, 12 November at Coopers Stadium, Adelaide.

Milicic held a camp in October including a mix of squad regulars and fresh faces, but this is the first time the full group have been together since their run to the Round of 16 at the global football showcase in France in July.

And the games against the South Americans provide Australia with the perfect tonic to move on from their penalty shootout heartbreak, says Kennedy. 

Having your fixtures for your national team is always more special,” the 24-year-old told matildas.com.au.

“You’ve always got club games, so to represent your country, for most of us, this is the highlight.

 
“Especially after the World Cup that we had, I think we’re all keen to get back together and move forward and look to the Olympic qualifiers and better ourselves to be at the Olympics. Hopefully we can go again and be ready.”

“It’s the first time we’re back together since the World Cup as a team. For our fans to see us together, it’s going to be so exciting.”

The 2020 Olympic Games is the next major competition on the Westfield Matildas’ radar, and the two-match series with Chile is a key building block ahead of the qualifying campaign.

Milicic’s side will need to close out against lower-ranked teams on the road to Tokyo and Kennedy believes La Roja Femenina offer the ideal test. 

“It’s really important for us to do well against teams that are ranked further down the line,” the 82-cap Westfield Matilda said.

“Last year we lost the first game so it’s important for us to make sure we work really hard to beat these teams regularly.

“We need to make sure our consistency in our game is there whether we’re playing someone ranked number one or number 50.

“We’re definitely looking to win both games this time around and play good football.”

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Chile line-up at the FIFA Women's World Cup™ in France
Chile line-up at the FIFA Women's World Cup™ in France

Coach José Letelier's side defeated Thailand 2-0 in the summer spectacular in France but Chile exited at the group stage after falling to defeats against the United States, 3-0, and Sweden, 2-0.

The South Americans split a two-match series against Australia in November 2018, winning 3-2 at Penrith Stadium, before the Westfield Matildas responded with a thumping 5-0 victory in Newcastle.

“They are a little bit unpredictable,” Kennedy said.

“We don’t want to take anyone lightly. 

“There’s an opportunity to win both of these games and it’s a good opponent for us to go into the Olympic qualifiers. I think they will be exciting matches.” 

Bankwest Stadium
Westfield Matildas play Chile at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday, 9 November.

Westfield Matildas captain Sam Kerr and her side will walk out at Bankwest Stadium for the first time when they open the series on Saturday, 9 November.

Kennedy says a return to home soil is an opportunity for Australia to show the world why they would make perfect hosts of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. 

“It’s really important to continue to showcase our good football and have people support us,” said Kennedy.

“I know we’ve sold a bunch of tickets, which is exciting. It’ll be good to have lots of people in the new stadium.

“It’s a very intimate stadium and really exciting for us Matildas to play on it for the first time.”

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Westfield Matildas play Chile at Coopers Stadium on Tuesday 12, November.
Westfield Matildas play Chile at Coopers Stadium on Tuesday 12, November.

The series also marks the Westfield Matildas return to South Australia for the first time in 13 years.

And the chance to run out in front of new supporters is something motivating the team according to Kennedy.

“I haven’t played in Adelaide for the Matildas so that is very exciting for us to be able to go out and play at a new stadium in front of new fans,” she said.

“It’s been a long time coming for Adelaide fans and it’s great to move around the country and let new people see us live, and hopefully it’s a good game.”

Amid all of the celebrations, selfies and jersey signings, Kennedy and her teammates know the main objective of the series is to get ready for the Tokyo 2020 qualifiers.

Milicic’s side to travel to China in February as eight teams will be whittled down to two that advance and join host nation Japan as Asian representatives.

“The pinnacle of our sport is the World Cup but when you think about sport as a whole - the pinnacle is the Olympics,” said Kennedy.

“So it’s really exciting for us to share that journey with other sports. 

“It’s also a smaller pool of teams, high quality games and a shorter tournament. 

“Women’s football will be exciting for people to watch and hopefully we can get ourselves there.”

Australia play China, Thailand and Chinese Taipei in February 2020, with the top two teams in the group advancing to a final two-legged qualifier in March.

“It’s a qualifying tournament with no room for error,” Kennedy said.

“We’ll take opportunities in the games against Chile to really progress and aim to be at our best in those qualifiers.”

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Upcoming matches

Westfield Matildas v Chile
When:
Saturday, 9 November, 2019
Where: Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta
Kick-off: 3pm AEDT
How to watch: Broadcast live on FOX Sports, Kayo, MyFootball Live App and ABC

Westfield Matildas v Chile
When:
Tuesday, 12 November, 2019
Where: Coopers Stadium, Adelaide
Kick-off: 8.00pm AEDT
How to watch: Broadcast live on FOX Sports, Kayo, MyFootball Live App and ABC