It is a debate that has raged in silence for nearly half a century. Who should be recognised as the first ever Australian women’s national team?
The 23 women who’ll represent Australia at the upcoming Cup of Nations have today been unveiled, as new Matildas coach Ante Milicic faced the media for the first time since his controversial replacement of Alen Stajcic.
A whopping 21 players of the squad currently play in the W-League, in what has been hailed as a ringing endorsement of the high-quality women’s football produced by the competition.
While there are a handful of players making their returns to the squad following long exiles, no debutants have been named in Milicic’s first side.
Milicic said he was “looking forward” to having all the players and staff in one place, but maintained the importance of strong practice ahead of the new tournament.
“It is important that we make the most of the next two weeks that we have together both on and off the pitch,” he said.
“With matches and travel in quick succession throughout the Cup of Nations, this tournament will replicate some of the demands that we will experience at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, which will be a good test for everyone involved,” he added.
The women’s team will be looking to put a tumultuous period behind them, with the shock sacking of popular coach Stajcic plunging the Matildas into an ugly period of unhealthy gossip, rumours and potential legal trouble.
The tournament will prove a big indication of the side’s World Cup chances later this year, with incoming coach Milicic adamant his team were a good chance of lifting the trophy. The circumstances of his predecessor’s departure will no doubt put Milicic under far more pressure to perform than normal.
Teigen Allen (Melbourne Victory), Laura Alleway (Melbourne Victory), Mackenzie Arnold (gk) (Brisbane Roar), Tameka Butt (Melbourne City), Eliza Campbell (gk) (Perth Glory), Ellie Carpenter (Canberra United), Steph Catley (Melbourne City), Alex Chidiac (Atletico Madrid), Lisa de Vanna (Sydney FC), Caitlin Foord (Sydney FC), Emily Gielnik (Melbourne Victory), Princess Ibini (Sydney FC), Elise Kellond-Knight (Melbourne City), Alanna Kennedy (Sydney FC), Samantha Kerr (Perth Glory), Chloe Logarzo (Sydney FC), Aivi Luik (Levante UD), Teresa Polias (Sydney FC), Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane Roar), Hayley Raso (Brisbane Roar), Gema Simon (Newcastle Jets), Emily van Egmond (Newcastle Jets), Lydia Williams (gk) (Melbourne City)
Game 1: vs New Zealand, 7:30pm (AEDT), Thu Feb 28, Netstrata Jubilee Stadium (Kogarah Oval)
Game 2: vs South Korea, 7:00pm (AEDT), Sun Mar 3, Suncorp Stadium
Game 3: vs Argentina, 6:00pm (AEDT), Wed Mar 6, AAMI Park