The Westfield Matildas’ pathway to Asian glory has been laid out following today’s draw for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2014.
The Westfield Matildas will be looking to retain the crown they won in 2010 – to date the only Asian title won by a male or female Australian team at any level – when they tackle the continent’s best next May in Vietnam.
The four semi-finalists alongside the fifth-placed team will qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015.
Today’s draw in Ho Chi Minh City saw the Westfield Matildas paired with world champions Japan, host nation Vietnam and Jordan in Group A.
The latter pair won through to the tournament after winning their respective groups in the previous stage of qualifying.
The Westfield Matildas and Japan qualified automatically having finished in the top-four at the 2010 edition of the tournament.
The Westfield Matildas defeated Japan 1-0 in the semi-final before winning the Asian crown with a penalty shoot-out victory against Korea DPR in the final. Japan went on to win the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany.
The two nations have met 20 times with the Westfield Matildas winning five and Japan eight of the matches.
The Westfield Matildas have defeated Vietnam on both occasions they have met, while they are yet to face Jordan at a full international.
“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 Westfield Matildas coach Hesterine de Reus.
“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.”