Photo: Getty Images
All of the Westfield Matildas’ overseas based stars including Newcastle Jets’ Gema Simon, Chloe Logarzo and former Jet Emily van Egmond, have been named in a strong 21-player squad for the upcoming Tournament of Nations being held in the USA at the end of July.
Westfield Matildas Head Coach Alen Stajcic has included a number of his big names including the red hot Samantha Kerr, who was recently named the NWSL Player of the Week for the second time this season after scoring a stunning hat-trick for her club Sky Blue FC in the United States.
With 13 players selected in the squad currently signed at overseas clubs, Stajcic is buoyed by the number of his charges who are playing regularly and performing well ahead of high-quality matches against world number one ranked the USA, FIFA Women’s World Cup Finalists Japan and South American powerhouse Brazil.
“We monitor the overseas based players daily and have contact with them weekly, so we keep tabs on them pretty closely and make sure the communication lines are always open between us and them,” said Stajcic.
“Sam’s exploits over in the NWSL this season are a great confidence booster for the team. We’ve got a lot of players plying their trade overseas and doing really well.
“Tameka Butt and Emily Gielnik have been two of the leading scorers in Norway, the players in America are doing really well, Caitlin Foord and Katrina Gorry have been performing well in Japan, but the main thing is that we’ve got a lot of players playing and in good form coming into the tournament.”
Stajcic has also included uncapped 17-year-old Princess Ibini after she impressed while playing for the Westfield Young Matildas in recent matches against Canada and the USA in Canberra.
Ibini, the sister of former Sydney FC winger Bernie, joins Ellie Carpenter as the two players in the squad born in this millennium.
“We’ve always known she’s got a lot of potential but she really stepped up in the games against Canada and America last week, so it’s a great sign that she’s been able to progress to senior international football,” said Stajcic of Ibini.
The Australian based players in the squad took part in a training camp in Canberra last week and while Stajcic admits the limited preparation and time together for the tournament is a challenge, he is relishing the opportunity to play against some of the best teams in the world.
“It was good to get the Australian based players together into camp and some of the younger ones did well so that was really good,” said Stajcic.
“Players like Emily (van Egmond) haven’t played for six weeks while some of the others have been playing at a local NPL level for a couple of months so it was a chance to bring them back up to the speed and fitness we want them at for the tournament.”
“Players in America will have games right up until five days before our first match against the USA so everyone in the squad will be coming from different starting points which is a challenge, but the quality of the opposition we will face is something that is going to be a fantastic experience for our group.
“We’re really looking forward to testing ourselves.”
Recognised strike pair Michelle Heyman and Kyah Simon are both absent from the squad as they continue their rehabilitation from injury.
The Westfield Matildas are yet to beat the USA in 26 attempts and have healthy rivalries and history with their other two opponents in the tournament, Japan and Brazil.
With all four nations sitting inside the top eight on the FIFA Women’s world rankings, Stajcic is excited by what lies ahead.
“Being in the preparation phase for next year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup, these are exactly the kind of matches we want and the opposition we want to test ourselves against,” said Stajcic.
“It gives us a chance to look at things we are doing well and things we need to improve on to become a dominant force at the 2018 Women’s Asian Cup and the Women’s World Cup in 2019.”
The Australian based players in the squad will depart for the USA on 21 July.
The Westfield Matildas’ first match of the Tournament of Nations is a blockbuster against hosts USA in Seattle (kick-off 12.00pm AEST Friday 28 July 2017).
The Tournament of Nations comes ahead of the two matches between the Westfield Matildas and Brazil that will be held in both Sydney and Newcastle in September.
Westfield Matildas squad – 2017 Tournament of Nations
|Name||Date of Birth||Club, Country||A International Caps (Goals)|
|Lydia Williams (gk)||13/05/1988||Houston Dash, USA||60 (0)|
|Gema Simon||19/07/1990||Avaldsnes, Norway||8 (0)|
|Caitlin Cooper||12/02/1988||Illawarra Stingrays, Australia||7 (1)|
|Clare Polkinghorne||1/02/1989||Brisbane Roar FC, Australia||95 (7)|
|Laura Alleway||28/11/1989||–||48 (2)|
|Chloe Logarzo||22/12/1994||Avaldsnes, Norway||12 (0)|
|Steph Catley||26/01/1994||Orlando Pride, USA||57 (2)|
|Elise Kellond-Knight||10/08/1990||FC Turbine Potsdam, Germany||80 (1)|
|Caitlin Foord||11/11/1994||Vegalta Sendai, Japan||53 (8)|
|Emily van Egmond||12/07/1993||VfL Wolfsburg, Germany||61 (14)|
|Lisa De Vanna||14/11/1984||South Melbourne Women’s, Australia||121 (40)|
|Tameka Butt||16/06/1991||Klepp I-L, Norway||56 (7)|
|Alanna Kennedy||21/01/1995||Orlando Pride, USA||52 (3)|
|Emily Gielnik||13/05/1992||Avaldsnes, Norway||13 (4)|
|Hayley Raso||5/09/1994||Portland Thorns, USA||16 (1)|
|Princess Ibini||31/01/2000||Football NSW NTC, Australia||–|
|Mackenzie Arnold (gk)||25/02/1994||Brisbane Roar FC, Australia||12 (0)|
|Katrina Gorry||13/08/1992||Vegalta Sendai, Japan||52 (13)|
|Sam Kerr||10/09/1993||Sky Blue FC, USA||50 (8)|
|Ellie Carpenter||28/04/2000||Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Australia||7 (1)|
|Alex Chidiac||15/01/1999||Adelaide City Women’s, Australia||3 (0)|
2017 Tournament of Nations – Teams and Schedule
Westfield Matildas (ranked 7th)
Brazil (ranked 8th)
Japan (ranked 6th)
USA (ranked 1st)
Match Day 1 (27 July 2017) – Century Link Field, Seattle
Brazil v Japan
Kick-Off 4:15pm local time (9:15am AEST Friday 28 July)
USA v Westfield Matildas
Kick-Off 7:00pm local time (12:00pm AEST Friday 28 July)
Match Day 2 (30 July 2017) – Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
Japan v Westfield Matildas
Kick-Off 2:15pm local time (7:15am AEST Monday 31 July)
USA v Brazil
Kick-Off 5:00pm local time (10:00am AEST Monday 31 July)
Match Day 3 (3 August 2017) – StubHub Center, Carson
Westfield Matildas v Brazil
Kick-Off 4:15pm local time (9:15am AEST Friday 4 August)
USA v Japan
Kick-Off 7:00pm local time (12:00pm AEST Friday 4 August)