Polkinghorne: Canada games good preparation for the team

Four CommBank Matildas hit the pitch in British Columbia today as the first wave of players arrived into camp ahead of the two-match series against Canada on 1 and 5 December 2023. 

Defender Clare Polkinghorne spoke to the media following Australia’s first training session in Vancouver to discuss the friendlies, squad changes and the re-match with the reigning Olympic Gold Medallists.

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"Yeah, it's sort of a nice way to ease into camp. There were only four of us there. Got a lot of touches on the ball and a short and sharp session." Polkinghorne said. 

The team will take on Canada in a two-match series, bringing to a close a history-making 2023. This will be the first meeting between the two sides since Australia defeated Canada 4-0 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™, knocking the Olympic Gold Medalists out of the tournament and advancing to the Round of 16. 

"Yeah, obviously Canada is a world-class team. So it's always exciting to come up against them. We always have some pretty tough battles. So it's going to be a good way to finish the year and we're really excited to get back out there."

Sam Kerr (foot), Mackenzie Arnold (arm), Charlotte Grant (hamstring) and Holly McNamara (knee) have been sidelined for the side's final two internationals of the year, with the four players being named to Tony Gustavsson's 23-player squad and having to withdraw due to injury.

"Obviously, it's not ideal to have injuries leading into camp, it's a bit of a challenge for us and hopefully, those players can get the time that they need to get right. But also gives a few of the other players an opportunity to come in and experience the national team environment and get some more minutes. It's all part of football."

Four players come into camp to replace the injured players, with Sarah Hunter, Jada Whyman, Alex Chidiac and Remy Siemsen coming into the squad. Hunter receives her first senior camp call-up after being a key member of the U23 Women’s National Team side over the past two years and has an opportunity to immerse herself in the senior set-up. 

Clare Polkinghorne during the CommBank Matildas' first session in Vancouver. (Photo: Rachel Bach/By The White Line)
Clare Polkinghorne during the CommBank Matildas' first session in Vancouver. (Photo: Rachel Bach/By The White Line)

These two games will assist the team in their preparations for their Round 3 Asian Qualifiers for Paris 2024™ in February 2024, taking on the reigning Olympic Gold Medalists, who have already qualified for the upcoming tournament. 

"They're a very tough team to come up against, very successful. So it's going to be tough for us. But I think we're all really excited and it's good preparation for us, not only leading into the Olympic qualifiers in February but also the longer-term goal of the Olympics. It's something that we've wanted to do is play against high-quality teams, in our preparation." she continued.

The two-game series against Canada will see the hosts farewell 328-capped and top goal scorer Christine Sinclair, also celebrating fellow Olympic Champions, Sophie Schmidt and Erin McLeod. 

Polkinghorne talked about Sinclair's international retirement, having played against and alongside one another, with both players holding the record in their respective countries for most appearances. 

"She's definitely earned her legendary status. Look at the numbers and the stats of her career, most-capped Canadian player and also most goals in international football as well. It's incredible that she's been able to play at such a high level for so long and to achieve some of the things that she has been able to achieve." 

"I was actually lucky enough to play with her at Portland Thorns for a short period of time and she's an even better person, as well. It's obviously a credit to her for what she's been able to achieve in the game and the legacy she has been able to leave behind."

For all the latest news and information regarding the two-game series, stay updated via the official CommBank Matildas website.

Match Detail
Canada v CommBank Matildas  
Date: Friday, 1 December 2023 (local) / Saturday, 2 December (AEDT)  
Kick-off: 7.30pm PST (local) / 2.30pm (AEDT)  
Venue: Starlight Stadium, Langford, BC  
Broadcast: Network 10 and Paramount+
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This article was originally published on the CommBank Matildas website.