Olympic qualification a dream come true for Australia’s Raso
Quang Ninh: Australia forward Hayley Raso revealed her delight at securing qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, declaring the achievement a dream come true after scoring in her side’s 7-1 aggregate win over Vietnam on Wednesday.
The pacey winger, who recently inked a deal with FA Women’s Super League outfit Everton, put the Matildas’ presence in April’s Tokyo 2020 draw beyond any doubt when she poked home a simple tap-in to make 2-0 on the night, and 7-0 on aggregate, in the 27th minute.
One of the few players in the Australian squad to have been absent from their travelling party for the Rio 2016 Games, Raso is now set to fulfill a long-held ambition by appearing at the Olympics.
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“It’s amazing,” the 25-year-old told the-AFC.com. “I haven’t been in this position before – qualifying for an Olympics with the team - so I’m really excited and I’m so proud of the girls for getting the job done.
“It is, I think, a dream of everybody’s to hope that one day they can play at the Olympics. For me, it’s a dream come true, and I’m just so excited that we’ve qualified.”
While Australia delivered a convincing performance over two legs, it was far from a trouble-free tie for Raso, who emerged as a second half substitute before taking a heavy knock in last week’s first leg, before being felled in numerous heavy collisions at Cam Pha Stadium on Wednesday.
Raso – who recovered from career-threatening back surgery in 2018 – laughed off suggestions that she was becoming an injury magnet, and said she was in good condition to kick-off her stint with Everton in the coming weeks.
“Yeah, I don’t know why it seems to always be me,” she laughed. “I got two heavy knocks there in the game. I’m just icing them up and hopefully all good to go from there.
“I’m off to Everton and I’m really excited and looking forward to getting over there and finally playing a game with them.”
With four games and one draw recorded from their five-game qualifying campaign, and the experience of several major tournaments gained in recent years, Raso believes the seventh-ranked Australians are good enough to secure a podium finish in Japan this August.
“Our goal is to go (to the Olympics) and get a medal,” Raso declared.
“That’s what we want to do. We’ve going step by step. This was one of the steps that we needed to tick off and we’ve done that, so our next aim is to go there and get a medal.”
Photos: Vietnam Football Federation
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