Qualifiers - Group B Preview: Australia, China PR primed for action
Sydney: Australia and China PR make their long awaited first appearances in Tokyo 2020’s AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifiers, but there will be no time for Group B’s big guns to settle in, with wins required against Chinese Taipei and Thailand respectively.
AUSTRALIA v CHINESE TAIPEI
After more than two weeks of training, Australia are set to finally get their Tokyo 2020 qualifying campaign up and running, and head coach Ante Milicic is eager for his side to put their preparation into practice when they face Chinese Taipei at Campbelltown Stadium on Friday.
With the ongoing coronavirus outbreak affecting the tournament’s schedule and pushing Australia’s Group B opener back by four days, Milicic has been afforded a rare chance to put in extensive time with his charges on the training ground, but the former Socceroo is now ready to get down to business.
Revitalised Gorry chases second bite at Olympic ambition
Sydney: One of the pivotal figures in Australia’s 2016 Olympic campaign, Katrina Gorry has experienced a full career worth of ups and downs in the four years since.
Voted AFC Women’s Player of the Year just over a year earlier, the player affectionately known as ‘Mini’ was at the peak of her powers on the road to Rio 2016, scoring crucial goals against Japan and DPR Korea as the Matildas went unbeaten through qualifying to end a 12-year participation drought.
Thailand’s Taneekarn prepared for familiar foes China PR
Sydney: Thailand believe they have the ability to revive their AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifiers with a win against China PR, a side known well by forward Taneekarn Dangda.
The 27-year-old is well acquainted with the Steel Roses, having not only played against them on several occasions at international level, but also having played club football for Chinese second-tier outfit Yunnan Jiashijing during the 2019 season.
While brother Teerasil is an established J1 League star in the men’s game, Taneekarn’s only previous overseas experience came in a 2014 stint with Swedish club Ostersunds, but goals against the likes of Mexico and Italy in the 2019 Cyprus Cup, and solid showings at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France opened the door to a move north.
Sydney: Australia captain Sam Kerr remains hopeful of leaving her mark on this week’s AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Sydney, despite a nagging quadriceps injury which has put her participation in doubt.
The prolific striker, who recently completed a high-profile move to FA Women’s Super League powerhouse Chelsea, is far from a certain starter when the Matildas begin their campaign against group leaders Chinese Taipei on Friday, saying the team would take no unnecessary gambles to get her into Ante Milicic’s starting line-up.
Sydney: Kazuo Echigo has called on his Chinese Taipei side to make the most of their AFC Olympic Qualifiers Final Round experience, after they began their Group B campaign with an important 1-0 win over Thailand on Monday.
Ting Chi’s first-half winner means another victory in either of their two remaining matches against Australia and China PR would almost certainly see Echigo’s charges through to next month’s play-off round, with a maiden Olympic qualification remaining the ultimate goal.