Holly McNamara: "I just can't wait to get to the Asian Cup and get started"

Holly McNamara has had a whirlwind few months. She signed her first A-League Women's contract, made her debut and scored her first goal with Melbourne City, and has capped it off with Commonwealth Bank Matildas selection for the AFC Women's Asian Cup.

Journey to 2023 - Thin Banner

As one of four players vying for the final few spots on the roster, McNamara knew she had to bring her A-game. 

"It's been quite a stressful week trying to wait and see how this training camp in Dubai has gone, but I'm very grateful for this opportunity. I just can't wait to get to the Asian Cup and get started," she said after finding out she had made the squad.

A talented youth international, McNamara's career to date has been punctuated with injuries including a torn ACL at 15 and a stress fracture. 

But now with a clean bill of health, the forward is showing the Australian football public exactly what she can do and it has caught the attention of fans, pundits, and coaches alike. 

Much like Cortnee Vine, Commonwealth Bank Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson and the rest of his coaching staff had been keeping tabs on McNamara. 

In McNamara, the national team once again gains someone who could prove pivotal against staunch defences. 

"If you look at Holly and the power that she has both in her runs but also in how she strikes the ball in finishing and breaking that last line with and without the ball, with power and pace. Those are definitely two weapons that I think we can take advantage of in the Asian Cup," Gustavsson explained. 

While the football community had kept an eye on McNamara, her call up to the camp was still a bit of a shock to the youngster. 

READ: How to watch: Australia vs Indonesia

MORE: Ultimate Guide: 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup

NEWS: Sam Kerr takes second place for #TheBest FIFA Women's Player award

"Getting that email was kind of a shock to be honest. I was just kind of blown away that this opportunity has come up," McNamara said. 

Heading in to 2022, all McNamara wanted was a chance to play uninterrupted following her torrid injury run. 

 It's been quite a long time coming just to play games in general, especially with COVID hitting everyone really hard. But [my goal] was just to get some game time, first of all.

"I never thought opportunities would come up like this. But definitely, these were some of my long-term goals."

The opportunity arose after a breakout start to the season, with the City striker registering a goal as well as leading the league for assists before she departed for Dubai. 

While her ultimate goal is to debut for Australia, she knows that she has a role to play in this squad as the Commonwealth Bank Matildas aim for a second ever AFC Women's Asian Cup trophy.

"I think for me, personally, it's about pushing the team. If that means in training, pushing some of the older girls, and then hopefully getting some game time seeing how that goes during the Asian Cup."

"I think we have a real chance of winning it this year. So I think as a squad, we can really push for that trophy, which will be nice."

For McNamara, after setbacks and triumphs, she knows she couldn't have achieved what she has without a great support network. 

"Understanding that I want this to be my career and getting the little wins along the way is perfect, and also having the right support around me, my coaches, my family, my friends have all been so supportive.

"They've helped me through the past couple of years and helped me get where I am today."