Matildas aiming for Olympic gold

Matildas co-captain Clare Polkinghorne says the ultimate goal is to win an Olympic gold medal after learning that Australian women’s team will play Germany, Canada and Zimbabwe in their group in Rio de Janeiro.

Australia will play world number 10 Canada in the opening game of the Women’s Olympic football tournament on August 3 in Sao Paulo.

It will take place at the Arena Corinthians which hosted the opening game of the 2014 Brazil World Cup.

The Aussies qualified for the Olympic tournament by topping the final Asian qualifying group after impressive displays against Japan and North Korea.

Polkinghorne, who along with Lisa De Vanna, led the team to Olympic qualification says the Matildas have been eyeing Olympic glory for a long time.

“As a group we set high standards for ourselves and we want that gold medal just as much any another team going to the Olympics wants to win a gold medal,” Polkinghorne told FourFourTwo.

“That’s what we play football for and that’s what we’ve been aiming for even before the qualifiers.

“We’ve had some good results recently in the qualifiers and that was just one step along the way as our main goal as elite footballers is to win a gold at the Olympics.”

Polikinghorne added: “For a lot of the girls one of their major sporting goals is to become an Olympian not only to become an Olympian but to compete and give it to the best teams in the world and win an Olympic medal.

“Ever since we’ve qualified we’ve realised that what we’ve been working towards our whole lives is going to come into fruition and everyone is really excited and looking forward to our first game on August 3.”

But before Australia reach the medal dais they have to get out of the group stage first.  

Even though Polkinghorne acknowledges that Canada and Germany will be strong opponents, the 85-time capped Matilda says the Aussies are not scared of any teams.

“They are obviously both very tough teams,” she said. “But we don’t fear anybody at the moment.

“Obviously Germany are a world class side and they have been up in the world rankings for a very long time. Canada have also been bringing in some very good results recently and they are always a tough physical team to play against.

“We’ve shown that we can match it with the top teams in the world and hopefully come the Olympics we can improve on our performance in the qualifiers and really stick it to the opponents that we have in our group stage.”

Meanwhile the Matildas’ Rio preparation been given a boost after the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) announced that they will fund five training camps at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra in May and June.

The decision was based on the Matildas’ medal-winning potential and Polkinghorne was thrilled and says it give the team a greater chance to win a medal.

“Yeah that’s awesome,” she said. “Leading into the Olympics we want to get together as much as we can and improve the little details of our game.

“The more time that we spend together the better preparation that we can have and that is the best position we can put ourselves in leading into Rio.”