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Matildas excited ahead of Perth test

Football West News

Westfield Matildas midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight doesn’t mind admitting her surprise at the national team’s rapid rise.

Kellond-Knight, who is in Perth with the Matildas ahead of Monday’s international challenge match against Thailand at nib Stadium, has been a key player during Australia’s remarkable transformation.

And with the Asian Cup in Jordan next month – a tournament that serves as qualification for next year’s FIFA World – Kellond-Knight has predicted even greater achievements on the horizon.

“It’s a great era to be part of, what we’ve achieved in the past 18 months has been incredible,” the 27-year-old Queenslander said.

“I didn’t see it coming, we were just following the plan. Thankfully we’ve had success so far, though we haven’t reached the goals we’ve set.”

The Matildas have been in three of the past four Asian Cup finals. They won on penalties against China in 2010 and lost to Japan in similar fashion four years ago.

Australia and Japan are expected to go deep in the upcoming competition, something Kellond-Knight would embrace.

“I was part of the 2010 winning squad and I know what it feels like, and part of the squad that fell short in the next campaign, so this year I want to go all the way with the girls,” she said.

“There’s so much history between the teams.

“The main memory I have is in Canada at the (2015) World Cup when we lost to them and every time we face them I feel that sense of wanting revenge.

“Even though last year we had a great victory against them at the Tournament of Nations, we know what they’re capable of, they’re a world class side.”

Before Japan and the Asian Cup, where a top-five finish will book a place at the World Cup, the Matildas will fine-tune their preparations in Western Australia.

“It’s a great test for us,” Kellond-Knight said. “I’ve never played an international match on the West Coast, so it’s really good to be over here in Perth experiencing everything. It’s ridiculously hot for starters, so that’s been hard to acclimatise.”

Monday’s 6pm kick-off should take the sting out of any late summer heat and Kellond-Knight’s teammate Clare Polkinghorne knows they must be switched on from the start.

“I guess our main priority at the moment is the Asian Cup but we’ve got a game to play on Monday against Thailand,” the 29-year-old Brisbane Roar defender said.

“They’re a team that’s really improved in the last four or five years. They’re a solid defensive team and they’ll be very hard to break down, so it’ll be a good test for us to put our structures in place and hopefully be able to create some chances to score.

“We’re going to the Asian Cup to win and a part of that is qualifying for the World Cup, which is another main focus for us.”

Polkinghorne, who passed 100 international caps this month in Portugal, added: “We had a bit of time together at the Algarve Cup, we got some games under our belt there. It’s nice to get back together with the national team after the domestic season.”

Don’t miss your chance to see the Westfield Matildas when they play Thailand on Monday, March 26 at nib Stadium.

Fixture Details
Monday, March 26
Westfield Matildas v Thailand
Kick-off: 6pm
nib Stadium
Get your tickets here