Matildas face world champions Japan

Photo: Getty Images

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Westfield Matildas have a Quarter Final date with Japan after the reigning World Champions defeated the Netherlands 2-1 in their Round of 16 match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on Wednesday (WA time).

Football Federation Australia

A goal in each half booked Japan’s place in the last eight to set up a mouth-watering encounter with the Westfield Matildas at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Sunday 28 June (WA time).

The Quarter Final showdown is set to continue the intriguing and respectful rivalry between the two fierce Asian heavyweights whose previous meeting was last year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup Final where Japan edge out the Westfield Matildas 1-0.

Now the Westfield Matildas have the chance to atone for that result on the world stage as they chase an unprecedented spot in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Semi Finals.

Westfield Matildas Head Coach Alen Stajcic, who watched Japan overcome a tenacious Netherlands outfit, admits the challenges do not get much tougher but that his team takes an unwavering belief that they can continue their amazing run in the tournament.

“They’re passing and movement off the ball is probably the best of any team at the World Cup, so we’ve got a big assignment on our hands – the current World Champions and a very good team,” Stajcic said of Japan.

“But as I’ve said before we’re a very good team as well and we’ve been dangerous against everyone and there’s no reason we can’t be dangerous when we play Japan and be a real threat.

“We know we have to be at our best to challenge these great nations that we’ve played already like USA, Sweden, Brazil and now Japan – that’s four of the World Cup finalists in this millennium.

“I’m confident we can beat them but it’s going to be an extremely tough match and we will need to be at our best for 90 minutes.”

After playing against them twice at last year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup at a time Stajcic had just taken charge of the team on an interim basis, the Westfield Matildas boss says his team has progressed considerably since then.

“I think we learnt from the Asian Cup. We had a 2-2 draw with them after we were 2-nil up and we lost the Final 1-0 off a corner,” he said.

“I think the biggest thing we’ve learnt is the belief we have in the team, I think if we play to our potential we can match it with the world champions.

“That was 12 months ago and we’ve grown a lot since then on and off the field, and it just gives us great belief that we can match it with the world champions and if we play to our potential we can certainly beat them this time around.”

The match will be LIVE on SBS ONE and SBS HD from 3.30am WA Sunday, June 28.

Westfield Matildas v Japan
Sunday June 28 2015
Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton
Kick-Off: 4am (WA time)

Reference: Football West