The hard work has been done, the preparation has been meticulous and the players are ready.
That’s the opinion of coach Ante Milicic as the Matildas get set to start their 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign against Italy in Valenciennes tonight (Sunday AEST).
The Matildas held their final training session on Saturday and now all focus is on making a winning start against the world No.15 ranked Italians.
Despite last weekend’s friendly defeat against the Netherlands in Eindhoven, Milicic is confident the side is primed to make a strong start to the tournament.
“We basically cover all aspects of the game. We’ll keep working on our playing style, keep working on our principles,” the Matildas boss said at the official pre-match press conference.
“We want to dominate possession so we’ll stick to our way of playing.
“Obviously we’ve conceded a few goals recently but again, that’s the areas that we continue to work on — and we’re really confident with the preparation that we’ve had.
“We’ve put a lot of good work in and we’re fully prepared for [Sunday’s] game.”
The Matildas will start warm favourites against Italy, who are in their first FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament in two decades.
But Milicic is well aware of their threat and is adamant there will be no complacency as his side look to get off to a flying start.
“Expecting a very difficult game — I think they’re probably one of the most improved teams in women’s football, you see the big clubs in Italy have invested a lot in the women’s game,” he said.
“I’ve personally seen the majority of their squad play live so I understand the investment that they’ve made.
“I think individually they’re very strong, tactically they’re flexible, very strong on set pieces, so we fully respect our opposition and we know that we’re going to have to be at our best to perform and to get a result from the game.”
Milicic confirmed 16-year-old attacker Mary Fowler won’t face Italy due to a hamstring strain.
Midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight, who has been battling an injury, is expected to be available for selection.
World Cup France 2019™ – Group C – Australia Matches
Australia v Italy
Date: Sunday, 9 June 2019 (AEST)
Venue: Stade du Hainaut, Valenciennes
Kick-off: 9.00pm AEST (1.00pm local time, same day)
Australia v Brazil
Date: Friday, 14 June 2019 (AEST)
Venue: Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier
Kick-off: 2.00am AEST (6.00pm local time, Thursday 13 June)
Jamaica v Australia
Date: Wednesday, 19 June 2019 (AEST)
Venue: Stade des Alpes, Grenoble
Kick-off: 5.00am AEST (9.00pm local time, Tuesday 18 June)
Australians are encouraged to #GetOnside and show their support for the bid at AusBid2023.com.