Why Cup of Nations on home soil is key for Australia's FIFA Women’s World Cup dreams
The Westfield Matildas have a jam-packed schedule ahead of next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, with every game crucial in preparation for France.
It’s why news of the inaugural Cup of Nations tournament on home soil is a huge boost for Alen Stajcic and his side in their quest to be crowned the world’s best side.
It was confirmed on Tuesday that Australia will take on fellow FIFA Women's World Cup nations Korea Republic, New Zealand and Argentina in late February and early March 2019.
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The Cup of Nations tournament will see three double-headers played in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
And while the tournament doesn’t have as much on the line as what Australia will encounter in June, it will serve as important building block for World Cup.
The clashes against Korea Republic (ranked no. 14), New Zealand (no. 19) and Argentina (no.36) all represent great opportunities for Stajcic to assess his options in meaningful matches.
With so many players pressing their claims to be selected in the final 23-player squad for France, there isn't a better opportunity for some fringe members of the squad to stamp their name on a boarding pass
And if the last year or so is anything to go by, it promises to be a memorable time for the women’s game in Australia.
The Westfield Matildas have played in front of some incredible crowds at home against the likes of Brazil, China and Chile in recent times, with fans flocking to see the likes of Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord and Lisa De Vanna in action.
Not only will the Cup of Nations give Aussie supporters the chance to wish the Westfield Matildas well in France, but provides the squad a big psychological boost ahead of their FIFA Women's World Cup campaign.
And with Australia hoping to host the following FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023, a successful Cup of Nations is sure to enhance the chances of bringing football’s showpiece event Down Under.
Of course, the Cup of Nations will be all about performance for Stajcic, and the vastly different styles and philosophies of each opponent will provide a series of challenges.
While the Westfield Matildas know all about their Group C opponents Brazil, the game against fellow South American outfit Argentina offers a stern and unique examination.
Both Korea Republic and New Zealand will also offer up different game-plans to what the Westfield Matildas may have faced in the past, which will allow the squad to be prepared for any type of scenario when they get to the FIFA Women's World Cup.