Road to Tokyo 2020: The must-see moments of Australia's Olympic Games qualification

It was long and challenging journey but we got there in the end - Australia will be one of the 12 nations gunning for glory at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. 

The Westfield Matildas confirmed their participation at a second consecutive tournament and fourth overall by defeating Vietnam 7-1 on aggregate over two legs in March.

It was a straightforward triumph from Ante Milicic's team.

But the road to Tokyo was anything but. Let's take a look back at the journey that was.


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The journey to Tokyo

Having received a bye for the first two rounds, the Westfield Matildas learned their opponents for the third round of qualifying on 18 October, 2019. The Green and Gold drawn in Group B alongside China PR, Thailand and Chinese Taipei.

The third round fixtures were initially set to be played in Wuhan, China, but due to coronavirus precautions, it was announced on January 26 that the four-team 2020 AFC Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament would be relocated to Sydney.

And so, the path to Tokyo commenced on February 7 in Australia's Harbour City.

Group B

Foord hat-trick inspires 7-0 win over Chinese Taipei 

Chinese Taipei provided the first opposition for Australia at Campbelltown Stadium.

It was seventh heaven for the Westfield Matildas, who kicked off qualification in style and stormed to the top of Group B as Caitlin Foord's 37-minute hat-trick stole the show in a 7-0 triumph.

Steph Catley, Hayley Raso, Sam Kerr and Katrina Gorry were also on the scoresheet as the Westfield Matildas leapfrogged China PR, 6-1 victors against Thailand earlier in the afternoon.

Watch: Australia 7-0 Chinese Taipei

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REPORT: Foord scores 37-minute hat-trick for seven-goal Australia

Three for van Egmond as Australia hit Thailand for six

Next up was Thailand, and Emily van Egmond's first hat-trick for Australia pushed the team another step closer to Tokyo 2020 with a 6-0 win.

The Novocastrian scored twice in the first half before sealing a treble in the second, as Kyah Simon and Raso chimed in with strikes of their own.

It was enough for the Westfield Matildas to retain pole position in Group B, following China PR's 5-0 defeat of Chinese Taipei.

Watch: Thailand 1-6 Australia

READ: Australian stars five their verdict on win over Thailand
GALLERY: Westfield Matildas hit Thailand for six
REPORT: van Egmond hat-trick guides dominant Westfield Matildas win

Brilliant van Egmond equaliser sends Matildas top

China PR were the final Group B opposition for the Westfield Matildas in Parramatta.

And it appeared the visitors would leapfrog Australia into pole position after Tang Jiali's brilliant strike in the 86th minute.

But van Egmond lashed home a stunning stoppage time effort to ensure Australia finished the third round of 2020 AFC Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament top of the pile, booking a two-legged home and away tie against world No. 32 ranked Vietnam, with the winner securing their ticket to Tokyo.

Watch: Australia 1-1 China

READ: Westfield Matildas react to dramatic draw with China PR
GALLERY: Westfield Matildas produce thrilling finish against China
REPORT: van Egmond's late equaliser stuns China PR and secures top spot for Westfield Matildas

Five-star Matildas defeat Vietnam in Newcastle

Australia put on a five-star display to beat Vietnam 5-0 in Newcastle's first leg tie.

First-half goals from Sam Kerr, Chloe Logarzo and Emily van Egmond helped the Westfield Matildas establish a commanding three-goal lead before Clare Polkinghorne scored a fourth and Kerr a fifth from the penalty spot to secure a confident home leg victory.

In what was the team's first match in Newcastle since November 13, 2018, Milicic's side proved too strong.

Watch: Australia 5-0 Vietnam

READ: How van Egmond helped Australia break down Vietnam for first leg advantage
GALLERY: Westfield Matildas put five past Vietnam in Newcastle 
REPORT: Kerr at the double as Westfield Matildas take five-goal advantage to Vietnam

Kerr and Raso confirm fourth Olympics appearance

With Vietnam needing a minor miracle to turn the tie around, Kerr put Australia's participation in Tokyo beyond all realms of doubt by opening the scoring inside 10 minutes.

Kerr then turned provider for Hayley Raso soon after and although Vietnam rallied in the second half after Huynh Nhu capitalised on a defensive mishap from Alanna Kennedy, Milicic's side would cruise and secure their Olympics berth.


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