Australia are not the same side that lost last year’s Asian Cup final to Japan and can dump the reigning champions out of the quarterfinals of the women’s World Cup next weekend, coach Alen Stajcic said. Japan set up a meeting with the Matildas by beating the Netherlands 2-1 in Vancouver on Tuesday to reach the last eight for the third time in seven World Cups.
Australia had spent a couple of days waiting to confirm their quarterfinal opponents after stunning Brazil 1-0 but Stajcic did not think Japan’s win meant the Matilda’s campaign would come to an end in Edmonton on Saturday.”We’ve got a big assignment on our hands – the current world champions and a very good team,” Stajcic said.
“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.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.”
Australia met Japan twice at last year’s Asian Cup in Vietnam, drawing 2-2 after being two goals up and losing the final to a 28th minute Azusa Iwashimizu header from a corner.Stajcic took over shortly before that tournament on a caretaker basis after Dutch coach Hesterine de Reus was sacked in the wake of a player mutiny over her training methods.
While Stajcic said the Matilda’s should still be wary of Japan’s passing and movement off the ball, he also reminded his players of how much they have improved in the last year.”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, and 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.”he added.