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?
Group B of the 2020 AFC women’s Olympic qualification tournament – featuring the Matildas – will have its matches moved from Wuhan, China to Australia amid fears around player safety from the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
The tournament, originally scheduled to kick-off next Monday (February 3), sees Australia, China, Taiwan and Thailand play in a round-robin tournament for the right to play at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo later this year.
New venues, dates and kick-off times are yet to be confirmed although, given the short notice, it’s highly likely all games will be played at the one venue.
The Matildas need to finish in the top two of the group to progress to the final round of Olympic qualification for the region.
The full statement from the FFA reads as follows.
“Football Federation Australia (FFA) today announced that the 2020 AFC Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament Group B will be held in Sydney, Australia, next month.
The decision was made by the Asian Football Confederation following the recent outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China, original host city for the four-team competition.
FFA Chairman Chris Nikou said he was pleased that Australia could step in and host the six matches of the tournament.
“FFA is happy and willing to organise this Olympic Qualification Tournament, and we look forward to hosting the women’s senior national teams from China PR, Thailand and Chinese Taipei in February.
“The safety of all players, officials and fans is of paramount importance to Football Federation Australia and the Asian Football Confederation, and we are confident we will host a successful tournament here in Sydney.
“I would also like to acknowledge the support of the Australian Government in enabling FFA to host this event at short notice.”
Further details on the schedule of matches, kick-off times and ticketing and broadcast information will be announced soon.