THE Matildas have been drawn in a tricky group ahead of year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup and will face reigning World Cup champions Japan, host nation Vietnam and Jordan.
The reigning Asian Cup holders will be looking to defend the crown they won in 2010 – to date the only Asian title won by a male or female Australian team at any level.
And with the four semi-finalists and fifth-placed team qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 there is a lot at stake.
“I think it is a very exciting group with the holders of the Asian cup, the world champions and the host all in one group,” said Matildas coach Hesterine de Reus following Friday's draw in Ho Chi Minh City.
“I think we have a good draw, playing Japan first, and after that Vietnam and Jordan.
“I’m happy with having Japan first as the strongest team so we will be totally fit and ready for the start of the tournament.
“After that we have two teams which, on paper, we are the better side, but at the top level easy matches do not exist anymore and they will not be easy opponents.”
Matildas and Japan qualified automatically having finished in the top-four at the 2010 edition of the tournament. Vietnam and Jordan booked their place for May's showpiece event after winning their respective groups in the previous stage of qualifying.
The Aussies, who just completed a clean sweep of a two-game series against China, will be keen to repeat the heroics of four years ago when they make their bid for consecutive Asian crowns.
Last time around they defeated Japan 1-0 in the semi-final before winning the final in a penalty shoot-out against Korea DPR. Japan went on to win the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany.
Australia and Japan have met 20 times with the Matildas winning five and Japan eight of the encounters. The Matildas have defeated Vietnam on both occasions they have met, while they are yet to face Jordan at a full international.