Focus on Australia
Kuala Lumpur: Denied by a single Azusa Iwashimizu goal in the 2014 AFC Women’s Asian Cup final, Alen Stajcic’s Australian side continue to set new benchmarks in the women’s game, and enter the draw for Jordan 2018 as Asia’s highest ranked and most in-form team.
Head coach: Alen Stajcic (AUS)
Current FIFA ranking: 6
AFC Women’s Asian Cup appearances: 1975, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2014
Best finish: Champions (2010)
A quarter-final appearance at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup was followed by a drought-breaking qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics, but the Matildas’ evolution went a step further in 2017; a year in which they went without defeat from March onwards.
The July victory over the United States, Australia’s first ever against the world champions, confirmed the Matildas as a quality outfit, but subsequent dominant displays against the likes of Brazil, Japan and China means they will end the year as one of the form teams in world football.
Superstar forward Sam Kerr has dominated the headlines with nine international goals since July, but she is supported by an all-star cast of quality contributors across all areas of the pitch.
Caitlin Foord and Katrina Gorry are former AFC Women’s Player of the Year winners, Emily van Egmond is a world class midfielder, and all-time leading scorer Lisa De Vanna continues to find the back of the net 13 years after making her international debut.
Boasting what has been described as a “golden generation” of players, Australia are highly-fancied to add to the AFC Women’s Asian Cup crown they won in 2010.
Key player: Sam Kerr
Scoring in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup final at 16 years of age, as Kerr did in 2010, doesn’t leave much room for improvement for the rest of one’s career, but the West Australian has continually developed, and now sits comfortably among the best players in the world.
Still only 24, despite having eight years of international football under her belt, Kerr’s sensational 2017 calendar year catapulted her from a quality player to sporting superstar, and one of Australia’s most recognisable and celebrated athletes.
Kerr scored nine goals in a dizzying five-match international spell which included a hat-trick against Japan and braces against Brazil and China; performances which would see her become the AFC Women’s Player of the Year in November.
While, at club level, 17 goals for Sky Blue FC saw her claim the MVP and Golden Boot awards in the US-based National Women’s Soccer League, in addition to the Julie Dolan award she won earlier in the year as the outstanding player in Australia’s domestic W-League.
Australia qualified automatically as AFC Women’s Asian Cup Vietnam 2014 runners-up.
A’ internationals in 2017
|Sweden||0-1||Algarve Cup||Albufeira, Portugal||02/03/2017|
|Netherlands||3-2||Algarve Cup||VRSA, Portugal||04/03/2017|
|China PR||2-1||Algarve Cup||Albufeira, Portugal||07/03/2017|
|Denmark||1-1||Algarve Cup||Albufeira, Portugal||10/03/2017|
|United States||1-0||Tournament of Nations||Seattle, USA||28/07/2017|
|Japan||4-2||Tournament of Nations||San Diego, USA||31/07/2017|
|Brazil||6-1||Tournament of Nations||Carson, USA||04/08/2017|
|China PR||3-0||Friendly||Melbourne, Australia||22/11/2017|
|China PR||5-1||Friendly||Geelong, Australia||26/11/2017|
Denmark won 4-1 in a penalty shootout