Elise Kellond-Knight in action against Brazil in Newcastle.
Elise Kellond-Knight in action against Brazil in Newcastle.

Matildas implored to keep giant-killing form

MATILDAS coach Alen Stajcic has implored his team to continue their giant-killing run and treat the China series like FIFA World Cup knockout games.

The fast-improving Matildas have claimed huge scalps USA, Brazil and Japan during a stellar 2017.

Australia host their Asian rivals at AAMI Park on Wednesday night, before Sunday's second game in Geelong.

"The next big step is to become a consistent team, to be able to back that up day in, day out at a major tournament,'' Stajcic said.

"This year we've put five or six excellent performances and results together now. To win a World Cup you have to do seven matches, so these China matches will be number six and seven for us.

"So it really is a good test for us to see if we can produce that kind of consistency that we need to be a genuine challenger at all those major tournaments.

Steph Catley at Matildas training in Melbourne.
Steph Catley at Matildas training in Melbourne.

"Our focus has been to be a major challenger in any major tournament, we don't like that false bravado in our team where we say we can win but really deep down we don't think we can.

"I think we've got to the point where the team believes it can beat anyone on any given day, and that's the first big step we've made over the last few years."

Former W-League golden boot winners Kyah Simon, Michelle Heyman and Larissa Crummer have been recalled to the squad after overcoming injury and making strong starts to the W-League season, joining Perth Glory's Sam Kerr to form a star-studded attack.

Germany-based Elise Kellond-Knight and Melbourne City keeper Lydia Williams are likely to be saved for Sunday's game, as they join the squad late.

While Japan and South Korea have been touted as the Matildas' toughest opponents for April's Asian Cup - which double as World Cup qualifiers - Stajcic warned that China was a big threat.

Caitlin Foord and Katrina Gorry celebrate a goal against Brazil.
Caitlin Foord and Katrina Gorry celebrate a goal against Brazil.

"China's a very good opponent for us, great practice matches for us leading into next year's Asian Cup,'' he said.

"We've played them four times while I've been coach - three one-all draws and a narrow win in the Algarve Cup.

"They're definitely one of the favourites for the Asian Cup. Japan's been there and done it, although they're in a bit of a rebuilding phase. South Korea are also a bit of a threat.

"It's an important two years of our cycle, where we've also got the World Cup and Olympic Games qualifiers.''

Kyah Simon at Matildas training in Melbourne.
Kyah Simon at Matildas training in Melbourne.


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