AAP Soccer

Unchanged Matildas set for Golden playoff

By AAP Newswire

Only The Golden Girls stand in the way of a serious shot at Olympic gold.

And it's why Matildas coach Ante Milicic has refused to tinker with his line-up for the final stage of their Olympic qualifiers next month against Vietnam.

Milicic on Wednesday named an unchanged 20-woman squad for a home-and-away playoff which begins on March 6 in Newcastle.

The Australian women's soccer team, ranked No.7 in the world, are expected to start as strong favourites against a nation sitting 25 spots below them.

However, Milicic emphatically denied any suggestion he would experiment with his team, all but vowing to stick with the 11 who sealed their passage last week.

"I'll be picking the same 11 that I feel can give us the same chance of a positive result. I won't underestimate the opponent," Milicic said on Wednesday.

"In a two-legged qualifier for a ticket to the Olympics, there's no easy game."

Milicic said the short turnaround between the most-recent stage of qualifying and the final playoff made it an easy decision to stand by his group.

However, he left the door open for players to make their case for possible flights to Tokyo during the Matildas' two-game trip in April to the northern hemisphere.

Milicic is hoping to take an expanded squad in games against reigning world champions, the United States, and eighth-ranked Canada.

"In the back of my mind, I know that April we've got two friendly games against two top-10 nations," he said.

"There's potentially an opportunity to go there with a larger squad.

"So that gives the staff an opportunity to potentially look at, not so much new, but faces that haven't been in the squad for this current qualification series."

Matildas staff have a few issues to monitor, including the increased number of overseas players who have moved to Europe, led by captain Sam Kerr.

Winger Hayley Raso has yet to link with Everton after having surgery on a broken nose, suffered early in the draw with China.

Officials are also wary of the continued impact of the coronavirus in Cam Pha, Vietnam, where the Matildas will play the playoff second leg on March 11.

"The FFA has been excellent with the way they handled this whole situation, so we're very confident in the process," Milicic said.

"I'm sure that, collectively, we'll come up with the right decisions."

Matildas squad: Mackenzie Arnold, Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Caitlin Foord, Emily Gielnik, Katrina Gorry, Elise Kellond-Knight, Alanna Kennedy, Sam Kerr, Chloe Logarzo, Aivi Luik, Jenna McCormick, Teagan Micah, Clare Polkinghorne, Hayley Raso, Karly Roestbakken, Kyah Simon, Emily Van Egmond, Lydia Williams, Tameka Yallop.