The Matildas’ time to shine has arrived

The Westfield W-League began in 2008. Seven years later it is bearing fruit on the international stage as a technically gifted, attack-minded and fearless Matildas prepare to meet their FIFA Women's World Cup destiny.

Five of the current squad (Williams, Polkinghorne, Butt, Kellond-Knight and Ash Sykes) were part of the inaugural W-League grand final in early 2009. 

Since then, the W-League has been pivotal in helping develop Australian players to a level where many are now in demand abroad. That's great news for the Matildas. 

Before the W-League kicked off, a tougher, older group saw Australia through to the quarter-finals of the 2007 World Cup in China. 

Four years later in 2011 Australia’s national team was a mix of older and many younger players who’d burst onto the scene via the W-League. That fabulous World Cup in Germany suggested that in four years' time, with four more seasons of W-League football, Australia would blossom into a world beater. 

Now in Canada that “golden generation" of Sam Kerr, Kyah Simon and Caitlin Foord has also had the added experience of playing abroad, as has Stephanie Catley who has emerged since the last World Cup.

At an average age of 24.5 this Matildas group is pretty much at its peak, lead by two class acts and co-captains in Lisa De Vanna and defender Claire Polkinghorne.

Matildas players celebrate a goal during their 11-0 win over Vietnam.

It also features AFC Player of the Year, Katrina "Mini" Gorry and talented keeper Lydia Williams (who I sense will be the most pivotal Australian player in Canada). 

What a squad. 

GALLERY: Matildas prepare for USA World Cup opener

Australia will face an older US side (average age almost 30) on Tuesday morning (AEST) that’ll feel like it’s playing at a home World Cup, such is the support they’ll receive from their fans streaming across the Canadian border.

But the Canadians fans will have a soft spot for the Aussies – you just hope the atmosphere doesn’t lift the US too much and intimidate our women. 

In the heat of Winnipeg, will the younger Australians run the US off their feet in the final 20 minutes? Those artificial surfaces can be hard work for older legs. 

World Cup preview: Matildas v USA

As for Matildas coach Alen Stajcic, he’s been a breath of fresh air.

Coach Alen Stajcic taking charge on the training ground.

The former Sydney FC and Institute coach took over a team in turmoil after the tumultuous Hesterine De Reus era was ended in early 2014. 

He guided the side to the 2014 Asian Cup final just a month after taking over. His association over a number of years with many of the players has no doubt smoothed the transition. 

Stajcic is a winner; hates losing too. You could say he's a more fired-up version of former Matildas coach "Gentleman" Tom Sermanni. 

And he's brought out the best in Matildas’ playmaker Gorry – a world star in the making - while ushering in the rise of Catley at full back. 

What's more, when Australia has a front four of Michelle Heyman at the point in front of Gorry, De Vanna and Kerr  – with Kyah Simon, Foord and Leena Khamis as other attacking options – little wonder he’s focussed on the contest being played in the opposition’s defensive third.

"Staj" plays a modern, possession-based, attacking system - using either a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1. It's not dissimilar to the Socceroos under Ange Postecoglou.

Stajcic hasn't shied away from tough decisions either. Kate Gill and Brianna Davey's omissions from the World Cup squad were met with raised eyebrows. This is very much his squad. 

If the opening games of this World Cup are any indication, women’s football has increased in power and speed as well as tactical awareness. For the neutrals, it’s going to be the best World Cup yet.

The squad huddle together for a team photo - what a beautiful bunch of ladies!

And the Canadian fans were wonderful in the tournament opener as their nation edged China 1-0 in an an entertaining encounter in front of a record crowd of over 53,000 (the biggest for any Canadian national team match men's or women's). 

FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 has got off to a bang.

The Matildas enhancing their reputation on the biggest stage of all will be another treat for fans watching the Cup back home in Australia. 

It all begins on Tuesday morning when Australia meet the USA in an utterly intriguing test of where the Aussies are at in 2015.

All matches from the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015™ will be live on SBS ONE, SBS HD and online, with the only exceptions being the concurrent group stage matches which will be streamed live online at

Matildas in article banner.