Matildas out to make a statement in World Cup opener
By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia coach Alen Stajcic thinks an upset victory in Monday's World Cup opener against the United States could be the first step on his team's path to becoming a superpower in women's football.
The Matildas, who have never made it beyond the quarter-finals in five World Cups, begin their Group D campaign in Winnipeg against the twice champion Americans, the perfect stage to make a statement of intent.
"I think we definitely can," Stajcic told Reuters in an interview before leaving Australia.
"I think there's so much talent and belief in this group. If we can bring our 'A' game that day, I'm sure we're going to be a big rival to the U.S. I'm sure they're going to know they're in a game that day.
"Our ultimate goal is to compete for medals, so to do that you have to get into the business end of the tournament. I really believe this group can do that.
"We want to be a world force in the next few years and this is our first step on the road to achieving that goal."
Group D, which also features Sweden and Nigeria, is one of the toughest in the tournament but Stajcic said after the initial shock of the draw had worn off, it had been something of an advantage to have such a tough encounter first up.
"It was obviously a heart in throat moment," the 41-year-old said. "It couldn't get any tougher but we're looking forward to the challenge. It really narrows the focus when you get drawn out against America in the first game. Continued...