‘We kept pushing through’ – Raso delighted with Westfield Matildas’ resilience
The Westfield Matildas have the resilience, strength and determination to overcome any challenge that they face, says Hayley Raso.
Australia’s road to Tokyo 2020 qualification has been fraught with challenges, but Ante Milicic’s side confirmed their place at this year’s Olympics Games after Wednesday night’s (AEDT) 2-1 win over Vietnam.
It secured a 7-1 win on aggregate for the Westfield Matildas, who are now on their way to a fourth Olympic games.
Given the character and patience Australia have exhibited over a testing and at times frustrating couple of months – which has seen the outbreak of coronavirus play havoc with tournament logistics - Raso and her teammates should be well equipped when it comes to crunch time in Japan.
“Definitely interesting is a good word,” Raso told www.matildas.com.au when asked to describe Wednesday night’s away tie in Cẩm Phả, Quảng Ninh Province.
A faulty power line caused play to be stopped for over 20 minutes shortly after kicking off at the Cẩm Phả Stadium – the latest complication for the Westfield Matildas to contend with.
“We just had to adapt and wait for the lights to come back on and we're glad they stayed on for the rest of the game," Raso said.
“It was interesting. It was really quiet. We could hear ourselves talking a lot out there, but I guess that just helped pump us up more hearing what everybody was saying and what we needed to do on the field.
“We get a lot of obstacles thrown at us this team. We're really good at adapting, we kept moving, kept staying warm out there and it wasn't too long.
“We could have bagged a few more goals out there their keeper made some really good saves but in the end a win's a win and we're really stoked.”
The Brisbane-born forward, who today jets out to England to join FA Women’s Super League club Everton, scored what proved to be the match winning goal after Sam Kerr had set her up with a first-half tap in.
Raso was not part of Australia’s last Olympic Games campaign at Rio 2016 and said the moment was extra special for her.
“It feels incredible," she said.
“It's been amazing. So many obstacles thrown at us and we've kept pushing through. We had a good qualifying tournament back in Australia and to come here and get the job done there's nothing greater.”
Meanwhile, Lydia Williams acknowledged that Australia’s performance did not live up to their high standards on Wednesday night but believes that will be seen as a mere footnote as the Westfield Matildas prepare for the Olympics.
After establishing a two-goal first half lead through Kerr and Raso strikes, Williams conceded Vietnam’s first-ever goal against Australia when Huynh Nhu capitalised on a defensive error from Alanna Kennedy.
“It was obviously a pretty scrappy game. We played for having a perfectionist game, but we did the job," the Westfield Matildas shot-stopper said.
“We're going to Tokyo which is the most important thing. We're all really excited about it.
“We really believe in our team and each other and what we can do.
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“Just qualifying is hard enough in itself and I think the fact that we've done it with two really hard tournaments in different places.
"It's a good step in the direction we want to go.”
Williams added: “Everyone really works for each other and everyone wants the best for each other and the team.
“You can really see out there that we just want to win and we want to play well and we want to keep learning and developing as a group.”
United States of America v Australia
Date: Friday, 10 April 2020 (local time)
Kick-off: To be confirmed
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah, USA
Canada v Australia
Date: Tuesday, 14 April 2020 (local time)
Kick-off: 7.30pm – 12.30pm Wednesday, 15 April 2020
Venue: BC Place, Vancouver, Canada
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