Matildas don't fear Brazil, says coach
MATILDAS coach Alen Stajcic claims his side is now better than Brazil and will be "a serious threat" at the World Cup in 2019.
As the Australian team prepares for the first game in a double-header with the South American powerhouse, in front of a sellout crowd in Penrith on Saturday, Stajcic said his side's biggest target was reproducing the form it showed in winning the Tournament of Nations last month in the US.
Stajcic predicted that Brazil would be seeking revenge for the 6-1 hammering Australia handed it in that tournament, but he insisted that even the return of several key Brazilian players to the squad didn't affect his belief that the Matildas had more firepower to deploy.
"I don't really care about what Brazil think or who they put on the field, at the end of the day I know if we play our best, we'll still win," he said.
"I think we've got to that point that we're the better team.
"If we play to our potential and our peak, I don't really care who they put on the field. We've gone past them in terms of ability, it's a case of can we reproduce our best form on every given day.
"That's the challenge, can we match that level of consistency and maturity that we showed in America. If we do I really think we'll be in the top two or three in the world in the next 12-18 months."
The two games form part of Stajcic's preparations for the Asian Cup next year and the World Cup the year after, with success in the latter the ultimate aim.
"Results are important but the objective of this year from the outset was to build the depth and flexibility of the team," he said.
"Obviously we try to win every game but it's about building the depth so that at a major tournament we're not relying on one key person. Two key players per position has been the objective, we've started over 20 players in the seven games this year.
"We went through undefeated in the qualifiers last year against Japan when they were at their peak, and Sam (Kerr) missed that whole tournament. Caitlin Foord had just come back from a broken collarbone. We had a FIFA player of the year (nominee) who didn't play and an Asian player of the year who was coming back from a layoff.
"This team can roll on whoever is playing. We've got 15-20 players - if we can build that to 25 I really think we're a serious threat for the World Cup."
In the immediate term comes the games with Brazil in Penrith on Saturday and Newcastle on Tuesday, with Stajcic noting the strength of the visiting squad.
"In the Tournament of Nations they were missing two or three key players, and in our game Marta didn't play," he said. "I know those players have all been rushed back in; they've got an excellent player from China, Rafaelle, one of their centre backs.
"One of their key players from the Olympics, Fabiana, is back and they've got Cristiane, who scored against us in the World Cup in 2007. They've got some key players who I imagine will be itching to get at us and get some revenge for that loss."