Williams: ‘Business as usual’ as Westfield Matildas eye continual improvement

Lydia Williams says the Westfield Matildas won’t be changing their approach despite taking a big advantage into Wednesday night’s Olympic Games qualifying second leg against Vietnam.

Only a massive turnaround would deny the Westfield Matildas a berth at the Tokyo Games following Friday’s 5-0 victory in the first leg in Newcastle.

Ante Milicic’s squad only need to avoid a defeat of six goals or more to punch their ticket to Japan.

Williams is adamant the side will play with the same hunger and determination in the Cam Pha Stadium which they showed so impressively in front of more than 14,000 fans in the Hunter.

The experienced shot-stopper says the squad are determined to do better than their Quarter Final finish in Rio four years ago, meaning they won’t be taking their foot off the gas in any match.

“We will always want to do better than previously. Just qualifying is big for us, barring the last time for Rio, it took us three turns to try and get there," Williams told reporters on Monday.

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MATCH PREVIEW: Vietnam v Westfield Matildas - the second leg
DON'T MISS IT: How to watch the second leg of Vietnam v Westfield Matildas


“To qualify again will be amazing and actually going to Tokyo and performing her will be great.

“Obviously we want to get to medal chances but it’s really one game at a time.

“Women’s football from the last four years has grown in leaps and bounds and even from the [2019] World Cup it’s grown again,” Williams added.

“We’re just making sure we’re ahead of the curve which means people are hitting form in different areas which is great to see…and we need to keep doing that.”

Wednesday’s match in the Quảng Ninh Province may be played behind closed doors as part of precautions over the coronavirus.

Regardless of whether there will be fans in the stadium or not, Williams says the Westfield Matildas’ training and playing has been ‘business as usual’.

Lydia Williams and Sam Kerr before the game in Newcastle
Lydia Williams and Sam Kerr before the game in Newcastle

She revealed the squad had been getting in the habit of basic safety precautions since February's first round of qualifiers were moved from China to Sydney.

"Everyone has their own hand sanitiser - so just making sure you wash your hands and then hand sanitise them a number of times a day, obviously before and after meals and then whenever you think you need it," Williams said.

"We had to just wipe down some surfaces. Obviously, we travel with a chef that makes sure all the food safety regulations (are) all good; we have our doctor.

"I mean, we've been taking precautions basically since Sydney for the first round of Olympic qualifiers when we heard about the coronavirus - so we've been aware of it since then, so really this isn't much different than what we were doing whilst in Sydney."

Meanwhile, Williams confirmed she is likely to follow some of her Australian teammates to Europe after being released by NWSL outfit Reign FC.

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The likes of Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord, Lisa De Vanna, Chloe Logarzo and Emily Gielnik are all playing in Europe and Williams could soon follow suit.

"My agent's obviously in contact with a few options for me," she said.

"Obviously, I'm not going to be going back to the States so, really, that leaves Europe as the next valid (option), I guess.

"So definitely there's some moves for me there. I think it's been six years that I've been in the US - so quite a long time going back and forth between W-League and there, so I feel like Europe is the next place to go as a player.

"(Options-wise) there's a few countries - I can't give anything away yet. But not Scandinavia - I think that's the one thing I can say."

Caitlin Foord Sam Kerr
Williams could be joining the likes of Caitlin Foord and Sam Kerr by playing club football in Europe

Next match

Vietnam v Australia (Away Leg)
Date: Wednesday, 11 March 2020
Kick-off: 6.00pm local; 10pm AEDT
Venue: Cẩm Phả Stadium, Cẩm Phả, Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam

FIRST LEG: How van Egmond helped Australia break down Vietnam for first leg advantage
WATCH: Best Westfield Matildas goals of the last decade