Korea Republic is the next challenge on the list as the Westfield Matildas attempt to make it three from three and put half a foot in the door to Rio.
Co-captain Clare Polkinghorne knows that while the Westfield Matildas have taken two significant steps towards securing a place at the Rio Olympics, there are still three sizeable ridges to overcome if they are to get there.
The first of these three challenges comes tomorrow night (Friday 4 March) against a Korea Republic side that finds itself in a mid-table logjam desperate to keep its dreams of Olympic qualification alive.
The Westfield Matildas’ match against Korea Republic will be shown LIVE on 7mate (kick-off 9.35pm AEDT).
Following Wednesday night’s big win over Vietnam that sent the Westfield Matildas’ goal difference to +11, the squad had a day of recovery as they prepare for the clash with Korea Republic in what will be their third match in the space of five days.
The Westfield Matildas currently sit top of the six team group two points ahead of second placed China P.R. and four clear of their next opponents, Korea Republic.
After disposing of Japan and Vietnam, the Westfield Matildas still have Korea Republic, DPR Korea and finally China P.R. on the last day to contend with to ensure they’re on that plane to Brazil, with the top two teams qualifying.
Polkinghorne, who has been part of two failed Olympic qualifying attempts, is not leaving anything to chance as she looks to make it third time lucky.
“We’ve always said that each game is going to be crucial and we know it’s going to take five wins to guarantee our ticket to Rio and that’s what we’re focused on,” Polkinghorne said.
“We’ve completed two steps and have got three to go but there is a great amount of focus in the group and everyone knows what the final goal is and Friday’s game is going to be very tough.
“They (Korea Republic) are a strong outfit and it’s going to be hard for us to break them down.”
Polkinghorne is likely to regain her spot in the starting line-up for the crucial encounter with Kore Republic. She has had an impressive tournament so far having played a full game at right back in the opening 3-1 win over Japan before coming on as a substitute at half time in the same position against Vietnam.
After missing out on playing a single minute at last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, it appears Polkinghorne is determined to make up for that disappointment in Osaka.
The Queenslander is up to 82 appearances for her country and bagged her sixth goal in the big win over Vietnam, one that is sure to feature in the highlight reel despite the fact she admitted it came in a highly unconventional and unintentional manner.
“To be honest it was a cross intended for Meeks (Tameka Butt) but a goal is a goal and I’ll take it,” Polkinghorne said as she recalled her cross turned shot that snuck inside the far post and managed to bamboozle the Vietnam goalkeeper.
“I think it’s the first one I’ve actually scored that hasn’t been in the box off a corner so it was good to score but I’m just happy to be able to contribute.”
The experience of past campaigns has Polkinghorne knowing the value of having points locked away early on which is what the Westfield Matildas have done but that they need to have the mentality of thinking they have no points next to their name heading into the match with Korea Republic.
“To not drop any points against Japan was critical and we want to be in a position next week where we’re not chasing after points,” Polkinghorne said.
“If we can get a good result on Friday it will put us in good stead going into the last two games next week.”
Korea Republic’s two results so far in the tournament have both ended in 1-1 draws against DPR Korea and Japan.
In the other Friday matches Vietnam are up against DPR Korea in the early game before Japan face China P.R.
Korea Republic v Westfield Matildas
Friday 4 March 2016
Yanmar Stadium Nagai, Osaka
Kick-Off: 7:35pm local time (9:35pm AEDT)
LIVE nationally 9:30pm AEDT on 7mate (LIVE stream: 7Live.com.au )
Twitter: LIVE updates at twitter.com/TheMatildas hashtag #KORvAUS
Westfield Matildas record v Korea Republic
Played 15; Won 10, Drawn 2, Lost 3
Last three meetings
29/11/2015 Korea Republic 0-1 Westfield Matildas (Friendly)
22/05/2014 Korea Republic 1-2 Westfield Matildas (AFC Women’s Asian Cup Semi Final)
11/09/2011 Westfield Matildas 2-1 Korea Republic (Olympic qualifier)