Matildas vice captain Steph Catley is approaching her seventh international tournament. Following two years of non-stop football, the left back is feeling rejuvenated after a much needed break.
The Arsenal based Matildas have endured an intense schedule. The end of the FAWSL season led straight into the Olympics, then Champions League matches and the start of the next league campaign.
“The schedule has been very heavy for me personally,” said Catley.
“The last few weeks I did get some time at home, some special time to spend with family so it’s just really refreshing.
“I feel like I’ve had that time with them now and I can just really start on the next chapter, and have been looking forward to this tournament for awhile for I’m excited to get going.”
“That is one of the reasons I went overseas to England to play, because there was that off-season…We played through the off season, so not ideal but that’s football and that’s what you sign up for.”
Catley is due to bring up her 100th cap during the tournament. She is one of Australia’s most valuable attacking and defensive players.
During the Tokyo Olympics she was the main source of chances for the team as they fought their way to a semi final. In the group stage alone she created six scoring chances from set plays, the most in the tournament.
Catley’s cultured left foot is a weapon from the wing or from set pieces. Earlier this season she scored one of the best goals of the Champions League with a curling free kick.
In 2021, she was responsible for 22 scoring opportunities, underlining her importance to the team and justifying her reputation as one of the world’s top left backs.
If Australia is to do well at the Asian Cup, a fit and rested Catley is a vital asset.
“The break was really important it’s been a long long time since I’ve been able to stop and relax and switch off for a little while.
“Not only was it important to get home and see my family, and get that love and that home support. It was also good for my legs and mind football wise.
“I feel really refreshed and ready to go.”
The Matildas have had only four five friendly matches to prepare for this tournament. Catley described the benefits of the Dubai camp. The players have been drilled in different aspects of defending and attacking, and devoted two days on each.
“We haven’t had a lot of time to prepare for this kind of major tournament structure in a while.
“There’s lots of games in a short amount of time. This kind of prep is really important for the whole squad to know what’s going on so any player can step into any role.
“We’ve been working hard the last four days and doing a lot of walk throughs as well, getting ther tactics right.
“It’s really important but its seems like everyone’s already on the same page and ready to go.”