Stajcic switches Westfield Matildas' focus to Japan

He was thrilled with large parts of their performance against Vietnam but Alen Stajcic is adamant the Westfield Matildas will need to be even better in their final match against Japan on Friday.

The Westfield Matildas moved to the top of their group at the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup following an 8-0 drubbing of Vietnam on Wednesday morning (AEST).

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The result means Australia only need a draw in their final match against the Samurai Blue to book their spot in the semis, and subsequently at next year’s FIFA World Cup in France.

The two nations have built up quite a rivalry in recent years and Stajcic is well aware of the task ahead of his side.

“We beat Japan last year at the Tournament of Nations, we also beat them the game before in Japan for the Olympic Games qualifiers but the five years before that they beat us every time,” the Westfield Matildas boss said.

“My memory is a bit longer than two games, my memory goes back 10, 12 games and I’ve watched Japan beat Australia numerous times and games where we didn’t get to touch the ball.

“We know what Japan is good at, they are probably the best technical team here, they are fantastic players, their movement is beautiful, and their touches are excellent.

“So we know we have to deal with a highly technical team and one who really knows the game well. We have to nullify those players.”

Kyah Simon

Stajcic was delighted with his side’s improved cutting edge against Vietnam, after failing to make the most of their chances in the opening match against Korea Republic last weekend.

He made a number of changes to the team that drew a blank against Korea, including handing starts to teenagers Alex Chidiac and Ellie Carpenter.

“They were both pretty good. Ellie gave us a lot of energy and forward runs and set up a couple of goals for us,” Stajcic said.

“They will just get better with every tournament, better with every game. One is 17 [Chidiac], the other is 19 [Carpenter], so they have a lot of football in front of them.”

Hayley Raso