Milicic identifies three things he wants to see from Matildas during Olympics qualifiers

Three matches in six days will give Ante Milicic plenty of food for thought as the Westfield Matildas boss plots the next phase of Australia's quest for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.  

The Westfield Matildas kick off the third round of the 2020 AFC Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament against Chinese Taipei on Friday before backing it up against Thailand on Monday, February 10, and China PR on Thursday, February 13.

It is a testing match schedule for the Green and Gold akin to the routine Milicic's side will face should they qualify for a spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women’s football competition. 

As a result, Milicic admitted he will utilise every player in his 20-strong roster, which will be culled to 18 players if Australia qualifies for Tokyo, and said he hoped no one would play every minute of the qualifiers.

The 45-year-old also said he was eager to see how the Westfield Matildas contend with short turnarounds between matches, and added that he will in particular be looking at how players adapt to a variety of roles.

"You look at the three games in a short space of time and you look at the loads of the players coming into the tournament and it is similar to what we are hoping to expect should we qualify for the Olympics," he said.

"Quick turnarounds, players that can potentially cope with Olympic games' intensity but also can at times be asked to play in a couple of different positions. 

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Clare Polkinghorne
Australia take on Chinese Taipei at 7.30pm AEDT on Friday

"We do definitely have a plan with how we're monitoring everyone and also I think there is a duty of care to the players. 

"We are hoping not to get anyone to play three 90 minute games. We need to use the full squad to be successful."

Milicic said that captain and Chelsea striker Sam Kerr was a doubt for Friday's clash with Chinese Taipei in Campbelltown.

Kerr has been struggling with a quad injury and will be monitored after Thursday's session, while Brisbane Roar midfielder Tameka Yallop is unlikely to feature after corking her calf.

Kerr's potential absence leaves the door open for the likes of Kyah Simon and Emily Gielnik to stake a claim up front. 

Milicic said he was impressed with the way Melbourne City striker Simon has fought her way back into the national team frame after a very difficult few years battling fitness issues which culminated in her missing the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.

WATCH: Westfield Matildas v Chinese Taipei 
GALLERY: Westfield Matildas prepare for Chinese Taipei opener

 

Simon, capped 87 times for the Westfield Matildas, has played eight matches for a return of three goals and two assists for Westfield W-League leaders Melbourne City in 2019/20.

"This is the first time she has played a decent amount of serious match minutes to be in contention and, since she has come in to the group, she has completed every training session," he said.

"Her form in the W-League has been decent. She's worked extremely hard in getting herself right.

"Our staff, as well as Melbourne City's staff ,have worked closely together and done a fantastic job and we're really hoping we can see her return to her form that she has shown earlier in her career."

MORE: How a gluten-free diet helped Simon bounce back from ‘the toughest point of my career’
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Watch Matildas

Match Schedule – Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Qualifiers – Group B 

Matchday 2 – Friday 7 February 2020

Campbelltown Stadium, Leumeah

  • China PR v Thailand – 4.30pm AEDT
  • Australia v Chinese Taipei – 7.30pm AEDT

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE

Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, and the My Football Live App – delayed on ABC TV.

International viewers: Live streamed via My Football YouTube channel 

Matchday 3 – Monday 10 February 2020 

Campbelltown Stadium, Leumeah

  • Chinese Taipei v China PR – 4.30pm AEDT
  • Thailand v Australia – 7.30pm AEDT

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE

Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, and the My Football Live App – delayed on ABC TV

International viewers: Live streamed via My Football YouTube channel 

Matchday 4 – Thursday 13 February 2020 

Western Sydney Stadium, Parramatta

  • Australia v China PR – 7.30pm AEDT

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE

Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, and the My Football Live App – delayed on ABC TV.

International viewers - Live streamed via My Football YouTube channel 

OLYMPIC QUALIFIERS: Home advantage excites Polkinghorne's Tokyo journey
MORE: How FFA stepped in to host 2020 AFC Women's Olympic Qualifiers

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