On Wednesday morning, Australia faces The Republic of Ireland in thier first match since the Toyko Olympics. They will face an Irish side looking to regain form after seven consecutive losses.
The 33rd placed team in the world will host The Matildas in preparation for thier upcoming World Cup qualifiers after thier opening game against Georgia was postponed.
The “Girls In Green” failed to qualify for the Euro’s having missed out on a playoff game after finishing third behind Germany and Ukraine.
In qualifying they conceded goals but it was in the final third that they struggled. The June 3-2 loss to Iceland was the first time they had scored more than once in six games.
They should not be taken lightly by Australia, they have some dangerous individual footballers. Manager Vera Pauww has added some new faces and returning names to the squad.
Katie McCabe (Arsenal, England)
Australian FAWSL fans would be well aware of the Irish captain. The Arsenal winger is a teammate of Steph Catley, Lydia Williams, and Caitlin Foord and is an important player for club and country.
McCabe is often deployed at left-back for The Gunners but is used in her preferred position on a wing for her country.
Australia is missing both Hayley Raso and Ellie Carpenter on the right flank. Whoever replaces them in Gustavsson’s lineup will have thier hands full facing McCabe. Her performance could be the key to an Irish victory.
Clare Shine (Glasgow City, Scotland)
The Glasgow City striker makes her return to a team in need of a proven goal scorer.
Shine is capable of spectacular finishing, at club level, she was at her very best in the Champions League with a perfectly hit volley as the ball dropped over her shoulder.
She has yet to open her account for Ireland but is somebody Australia will need to be wary of.
Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City, England)
Birmingham City’s forward could make her long-awaited international debut. Quinn was added to the squad following a years-long process to gain an Irish passport.
Like Shine, she is capable of scoring from half a chance. A 10-year veteran of senior club football, Quinn is still only 27 and approaching her peak years.
Irish fans will be hoping she is worth the wait, Australian’s would prefer she wait for at least one game longer.
Harriet Scott (Birmingham City, England)
Scott returns to the national team and the full-back could be a welcome and decisive inclusion.
Against an Australian side that creates most of thier chances on the wing, Harriet Scott’s performance could be pivotal.
At club level, she has been a consistent performer for Birmingham City over the past few seasons. In the English league, she is used to facing some of the highest quality forwards in the world and will have no fear of the Matildas attack.
How will they line up?
Pauww prefers a 3-4-3 with North Carolina Courage’s Denise O’Sullivan playing as the number ten behind two strikers. Recently at least one of those strikers is another U.S based player, Harriet Payne of Florida State University.
In defense, they play with three at the back in a similar style to Australia’s under Tony Gustavsson.
This setup has not been prolific for Ireland but has been miserly. They struggled to find wins in Euro qualifiers but only Germany was able to win by more than one goal.
Tony Gustavsson anticipated a physical, committed opponent and in front of thier home fans, Ireland will not be easy to beat.
The match will see the return of crowds to the stadium and the players will be looking to celebrate thier new equal pay deal with a strong performance.
Both coaches are trying out new players and looking to find new strengths and repair weaknesses.
Each side will be featuring players given chances to prove themselves and will want to grab thier opportunities.
It is an international friendly where the teams have nothing to lose, but the players have everything to gain.
Courtney Brosnan (GK) Diane Caldwell, Louise Quinn, Harriet Scott, Katie Mccabe, Ruesha LittleJohn, Jamie Finn, Aine O’Gorman, Denise O’Sullivan, Heather Payne, Clare Shine.
The Matildas take on The Republic of Ireland tomorrow morning at 4am AEST.