Matildas stars appointed Asian Cup ambassadors

Four of Australia’s best known Matildas have been appointed domestic football ambassadors for AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015.

Kyah Simon, Sally Shipard, Ellyse Perry and Sarah Walsh will help promote Australia’s biggest ever football tournament, especially among the rapidly expanding numbers of girls and women who play and watch the world game.

“We are fortunate to have these outstanding women on our ambassador team,” said Michael Brown, CEO of the Asian Cup Local Organising Committee.

“They helped put Australian women’s football on the map, and we hope they can help us to embrace an audience that will make this the biggest, most inclusive Asian Cup ever.”

Kyah Simon scored the penalty that clinched Australia’s victory in the 2010 Asian Cup final and scored both goals in Australia’s 2-1 win over Norway that earned the Matildas a quarter-final berth at the 2011 World Cup.

The Sydney FC striker was first ever Indigenous Australian to score a goal in a World Cup tournament.

Sally Shipard was another member of the victorious Asian Cup team in 2010, and played in two World Cups during a 10-year international career that earned her over 50 caps.

She played for Canberra United in the W-League and for Bayer Leverkusen in the German Bundesliga in 2012.

Ellyse Perry is a dual football and cricket international who made her debut for both the Australian cricket and football teams at the age of 16.

She is the first Australian woman to have appeared in both cricket and football World Cups.

The Sydney FC defender, who previously played for both Central Coast Mariners and Canberra United in the W-League, represented Australia at the 2008 AFC Women’s Asian Cup and the 2011 World Cup.

Sarah Walsh scored 38 goals in 75 appearances for Australia.

The former Western Sydney Wanderers captain resented Australia at the 2004 Olympics, 2006 Asian Cup and the 2007 World Cup.

Simon, Shipard, Perry and Walsh join a star-studded Asian Cup ambassadors team that includes Socceroos legends Brett Emerton, Paul Okon, Craig Moore, Harry Kewell, Alan Davidson, Matt McKay and Rale Rasic, and 2007 Asian Cup winner Ali Abbas of Sydney FC.

The AFC Asian Cup is Asia’s biggest football competition and was established in 1956.

The 16 nations to qualify for AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 are Australia as hosts, defending champions Japan, Korea Republic and 2012 AFC Challenge Cup winners DPR Korea, along with Bahrain, China, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Palestine.

The 16 finalists will take part in a 23-day festival of football in five cities which the Socceroos will kick off against Kuwait on January 9, 2015, in Melbourne, with the final set for Sydney’s Stadium Australia on January 31, 2015.