Matildas squad ready to show skills on international stage
THE Socceroos showed they were ready to take on the world with a dominant 4-0 win against Jordan in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday night, and now the Matildas get their chance on the big stage.
The Aussie women's team, ranked No.9 in the world, has a series of matches against some highly-ranked opposition in coming weeks as a stepping stone to the 2015 World Cup in Canada, and the 2016 Rio Olympics.
First up will be New Zealand's Football Ferns in Canberra tonight and again on Sunday, followed by away games against the Dutch on June 29 and France - ranked No.5 - on July 6.
Newly-appointed Matildas co-captain Clare Polkinghorne, also captain of the Brisbane Roar, said the matches would give an insight into how much work was required ahead of those major tournaments.
The 24-year-old, the most capped player in the squad with 68 internationals to her credit, said new coach Hesterine de Reus, appointed in December, had wasted no time implementing changes to the team.
"She is trying to bring more structure and wants everyone to be entirely clear of their roles," Polkinghorne said of de Reus, who played 43 times for Holland and was the PSV Eindhoven women's coach.
With incumbent skipper Melissa Barbieri absent due to the birth of her first child, Polkinghorne and fellow co-captain Kate Gill were due to have their positions reviewed after the friendly against France, but Gill was forced to pull out earlier this week with a hamstring complaint.
"I don't feel any pressure to keep the captaincy. I just want to keep my spot in the team. If the captaincy tag comes, that's a great bonus," Polkinghorne said.
"After these internationals, we'll have a better indication of where we're at as a team. We've set ourselves a goal to keep improving."
While Polkinghorne, last season's W-League player of the season, is firmly focused on her football goals, sport is not the only subject of her attention.
The 24-year-old is studying for her honours in psychological science and wants to work with people who have sustained brain trauma through injury or stroke, once her career finishes.
"This year's been pretty full-on. But studying gives me a good balance. I've always been interested in learning new things, especially things involving the mind," she said.
"I'd like to go and play for an overseas club, but this next year's going to be a big one with Australian commitments including the Asian Cup and World Cup qualifiers. So we'll have to wait and see."