Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Sao Paulo: Head coach Alen Stajcic believes Australia will reap handsome dividends for their meticulous preparations as they brace themselves for Wednesday’s Olympics opener against Canada.
The Matildas have already spent almost a month in Brazil, a move designed to help players acclimatize to the South American conditions and eradicate the potentially debilitating effects of jetlag.
With their Group F clash against the Canadians - as well as games against Germany and Zimbabwe on August 6 and 9 respectively - to come, Stajcic is more than happy with the work that has been done prior to Australia’s gold medal assault.
“We’re obviously very excited, but very focused on the task at hand,” Stajcic told his country’s official Olympics website.
“From a team perspective, we needed to come here early due to the weather conditions back home in Australia being the middle of winter.
“Also, the thirteen hour time difference, which is a massive length of jet lag to get over and really took the team somewhere between five to seven days to get over that.
“Really we’ve had between two to three weeks of really quality training and it’s been essential training, but I’m sure it’ll be beneficial come the end of the tournament.”
The Matildas have never played an Olympic football tournament as an AFC nation, with their last appearance in the games coming in 2004, but they will arrive in Rio hoping to become the third AFC representative, after China and Japan, to claim a women’s Olympic medal.
And, according to Stajcic, his young squad has what it takes to realise those lofty ambitions.
“They may be young, but many have been to more than one World Cup already and more than one major tournament,” he said.
“They’ve played in enough big matches to be ready for an occasion like this.
“Every match is important, [the game against Canada] obviously gives you a bit of momentum, but at the end of the day, we’ve just got to get through to the quarter-finals and then from there it’s life and death.
“This team certainly has the capacity to beat any team in the world on our day, so our job is to be as consistent as we can throughout the tournament and get to the finals series and be at our best possible shape.”
Photo: Football Federation Australia