Matildas primed for Korea clash

Having accomplished World Cup qualification, the Westfield Matildas’ attention is now on toppling Korea Republic for a place in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup decider.

The Westfield Matildas are bracing for an ‘extremely tough- Semi Final when they take on Korea Republic in the last four of the AFC Women-s Asian Cup tomorrow (Thursday) night at Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh (Kick-Off 11.45pm AEST).

Having accomplished their first objective of qualifying for next year-s FIFA Women-s World Cup after their win over Vietnam on Sunday, the Westfield Matildas- attention is now on defending their reigning champions status of the AFC Women-s Asian Cup.

To do this the Matildas must first get past Korea Republic in the Semi Finals, the Koreans having finished top of Group B on goal difference ahead of China.

Notably, Korea Republic have scored the most goals of any team in the tournament thus far, thanks largely to a 12-0 result against Myanmar in the Group Stage, while they have also yet to concede a goal so far in the competition.

But as the Matildas completed their final preparations on a field at the Saigon Racing Club earlier today, Interim Head Coach Alen Stajcic believes whatever has happened earlier in the tournament means little coming into the business end.

“We-ve qualified for the World Cup but obviously we-ve got our second objective of trying to retain the Asian Cup that we won four years ago,” Stajcic said.

“We know it-s going to be extremely tough, Korea Republic is a very good team with lots of good players, so we-ll be trying our hardest to overcome their technique and some of their good players and hopefully produce some good attacking football ourselves.

“At the end of the day everything that happened in the Group Stage is irrelevant now. Both teams are very good, it will be a big fifty-fifty battle and whichever team plays better on the night will go through to the Final.”

After an impressive performance against World Champions Japan in their opening match of the tournament, the Westfield Matildas struggled to recapture that electric form in their following two encounters.

But with a spot in Sunday night-s Final against either Japan or China awaiting the winner, Stajcic was unequivocal in stating that there are no excuses for his players not to produce the football he knows is good enough to go all the way and win the title.

Efficiency in the attacking third and capitalising on promising build ups in midfield is an area the Matildas will need to improve in if they are to match it with Korea Republic.

At the same time Australia will also need to maintain compact defensively to quell Korea Republic-s attacking prowess.

If they can hold firm and restrict the chances for Korea to threaten, Stajcic knows the Matildas have the firepower to hurt their opponents at the other end.

“I thought our first game in the group stage was really positive, there are a few things to work on from the second and third games but we-ve had some training sessions since then and we think we-re ready to go for the Semi Final, Stajcic said.

“We-ve watched plenty of footage of Korea so we-re pretty aware of what they-re capable of and we saw the other night (against China) that they-re technically brilliant, their number 10 is probably one of the best players in the tournament and the girl up front is a powerhouse and she-s a threat.”

“We know how good they can play and that they-re certainly going to be a big challenge.

“But I think if we-re disciplined and have a good shape and structure defensively, I think our team has got goals in it.

“We-ve got so many weapons, whether it-s Katrina Gorry, Emily van Egmond or our front three, we-ve got weapons all over the field that can score goals and I think we-ll be dangerous from set pieces as well, so as long as we can hold them out and hold off some of their threats I think we-ve got goals in us and I think South Korea know that as well.

Stajcic is expecting a typically tense affair, the Matildas- mental strength for the duration is set to be just as important as how their bodies handle the conditions physically.

“Anything can happen in a Semi Final like this so we-ve got to be prepared for extra time or a penalty shootout - we won the Asian Cup in a shootout last time so we have to be mentally prepared for a grind if it gets down to being a game like that,” Stajcic said.

Positively for Stajcic, the Matildas have no injury concerns, every player in the squad fit, available and ready.

Kick-Off is at 11.45pm AEST and the match can be seen LIVE and exclusive on Fox Sports 2 and 2HD.

The other Semi Final between Japan and China will be played before the Matildas tackle Korea Republic.

For further information about the AFC Women-s Asian Cup 2014, click here.

AFC Women-s Asian Cup - Semi Final Korea Republic v Westfield Matildas Thursday 22 May 2014 Thong Nhat Stadium, Ho Chi Minh Kick-Off: 8.45pm local time (11.45pm AEST)

LIVE & exclusive on Fox Sports 2 and 2HD

Twitter: #KORvAUS

Westfield Matildas squad: 1.Brianna DAVEY (gk), 2.Teigen ALLEN, 3.Kim CARROLL, 4.Clare POLKINGHORNE, 5.Laura ALLEWAY, 6.Leena KHAMIS, 7.Hayley RASO, 8.Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 9.Caitlin FOORD, 10.Emily VAN EGMOND, 11.Lisa DE VANNA, 12.Kate GILL, 13.Tameka BUTT, 14.Alanna KENNEDY, 15.Nicola BOLGER, 16.Stephanie CATLEY, 17.Teresa POLIAS, 18.Lydia WILLIAMS (gk), 19.Katrina GORRY, 20.Samantha KERR, 21.Casey DUMONT (gk), 22.Ashleigh SYKES, 23.Michelle HEYMAN, 24.Emma CHECKER

HEAD TO HEAD RECORD Played 14; Australia 9; Korea Republic 3; Draws 2

Previous Meetings 11-Sep-2011 - W 2-1 in Jinan (Olympic Qualifier) 23-Oct-2010 - L 1-2 in Suwon (Peace Queen Cup - Final) 21-May-2010 - W 3-1 in Chengdu (AFC Women-s Asian Cup - Group Stage) 31-May-2008 - W 2-0 in Ho Chi Minh (AFC Women-s Asian Cup - Group Stage) 16-July-2006 - W 4-0 in Adelaide (AFC Women-s Asian Cup - Group Stage) 29-July-2005 - L 0-3 in Jeonju (Friendly) 26-July-2005 - D 0-0 in Jeonju (Friendly) 25-July-2003 - D 0-0 in Sendai (Three Nations Tournament) 26-Jan-2003 - W 2-0 in Canberra (Australia Cup) 19-Jan-2002 - W 4-1 in Bendigo (Australia Cup) 16-Jan-2002 - W 1-0 in Albury (Australia Cup) 13-Jan-2002 - W 1-0 in Wagga Wagga (Australia Cup) 29-Mar-1996 - L 1-2 in Auckland (M-Wey Tri Series) 25-Mar-1996 - W 1-0 in Auckland (M-Wey Tri Series)