‘This is what we want’: Carpenter says Chile series ideal for Olympic preparations

Ellie Carpenter says the upcoming series against Chile is just the type of quality matches the Westfield Matildas need as they begin their journey towards the 2020 Olympic Games.

The Westfield Matildas take on the South Americans at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 3pm AEDT), before a second match in Adelaide at Coopers Stadium on Tuesday night (kick-off 8pm AEDT).

It’s the first step in what is going to be a busy few months for Ante Milicic’s squad, with February’s Olympic qualifiers the main focus.

Australia will head to China to face the host-nation, Thailand and Chinese Taipei and need to finish in the top-two in that group to advance to the final qualifying round.

“This [series against Chile] is really what we want. We want tough opposition every game we have in international football,” Carpenter told matildas.com.au ahead of Saturday’s match in Sydney.

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“Chile are a strong side, they have some great players like their goalkeeper [Christiane Endler] who plays for PSG, she’s quality.

“It will be tough high-level games that we need to perform and bring our best to win.

“I’m really excited to get back into camp. It’s the start of our Olympic qualification.

“Since the World Cup we’ve had a couple of months apart so it will be great to get back together and with the qualifiers coming up it’s so important and these games are a vital part into that.”

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Alanna Kennedy and Ellie Carpenter at Bankwest Stadium
Alanna Kennedy and Ellie Carpenter at Bankwest Stadium

Despite being just 19, this is Carpenter’s second time heading into an Olympic qualification process after bursting onto the scene in early 2016.

Back then, a 16-year-old Carpenter made her debut in the Olympic qualifiers, helping the Matildas book their ticket to the Games in Brazil.

Now as she heads into another qualifying process, the Cowra-born defender is one of the mainstays of the national team.

“It feels like not that long ago but it’s been four years. It’s really exciting to come into a new cycle,” Carpenter said.

“For me, I feel I have grown as a player since then and I’m excited for this new cycle.

“I’m a bit more experienced. I have a World Cup and an Olympics under my belt now.

“Going into a major tournament I know the preparation for it and the things that I need to do. I’m well prepared and I’ll do my best to get on that roster to get to an Olympics.”

If Australia does qualify for the Games in Tokyo next year, Carpenter knows she’ll have to be at the top of her game to make Milicic’s final squad.

While 23-player squads are permitted for tournaments like the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Olympic Games squads are limited to just 18 players.

That means form next season – especially in the Westfield W-League – will be crucial and Carpenter feels she is in the best place for that at her new club Melbourne City.

“They are just so professional as a club and they have outstanding facilities. It’s a professional environment and I felt it’s the right place for me to be leading up to the Olympics,” she said.

“And just looking around there’s a number of my Matildas teammates as well in the team so I thought that was important to develop those relationships on the field.

“I’d love to make the finals as well. I haven’t made the finals in any W-League season I’ve played in so I’m really looking forward to a good season.

“I think [2019/20] will be the most competitive yet. With everyone announcing their signings, I think it’s going to be a great season with many players from around the world really strengthening the league.”

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Ellie Carpenter will play with Melbourne City in the Westfield W-League 2019/20 Season
Ellie Carpenter will play with Melbourne City in the Westfield W-League 2019/20 Season

Westfield Matildas v Chile

  • Game 1

When: Saturday, 9 November, 2019
Where: Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta
Kick-off: 3pm (AEDT)
How to watch: Broadcast live on FOX Sports, Kayo, MyFootball Live App and ABC

  • Game 2

When: Tuesday, 12 November, 2019
Where: Coopers Stadium, Adelaide
Kick-off: 8pm (AEDT)
How to watch: Broadcast live on FOX Sports, Kayo, MyFootball Live App and ABC

Matildas free to air