Simon chasing World Cup revenge

Ahead of tonight’s opening game in the AFC Women’s qualifiers for the Rio Olympics, Matilda’s star Kyah Simon says the Australians will be looking to gain some World Cup revenge by beating Japan.

A schedule of five games in ten days see the Australian Women’s football team play Japan, Vietnam, Korea Republic, DPR Korea and China PR.

Only the top two teams from the tournament will qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

In the lead up to the opening game of the final qualification round, 24-year-old Simon says the Matilda’s are looking for payback when they face their World Cup Quarter Final nemesis.

“That first game against Japan is obviously going to be a tough one,” she said.

“They are a very strong opponent and obviously we got some vengeance to get back from the World Cup as they were the team that knocked us out. 

“I think we are in good shape heading into the game and we know a fair few of their strengths and also where we could possibly exploit them. And obviously our strength going in to the game. 

“We are at our freshest so we really got a good opportunity to walk away with the win but have to perform at the top of our game and play to our potential to give ourselves the best opportunity.”

Simon admitted that even though the Australians expect Japan will have more of the ball during the match the Matildas will have a game plan to combat that disparity.

“All Asian opponents are possession based teams and for Japan that is one of their strengths,” she said. “But if we are sound defensively then it really doesn’t matter how much possession they’ve got if they can’t break down our defence then a lot of their possession is not effective.

“If we can be solid in our defensive structure and finish our opportunities then that will get us across the line. But we have to do the small things to get the result.”

The last time the Australian women’s team qualified for an Olympics was Athens in 2004 and Simon says that getting to Rio is important to keep the Women’s game moving forward 

“That’s paramount, she said. “For us and the future of Women’s football we want to ensure that we are at these Rio Olympics games and obviously no Australian team has been there since 2004,

“It’s a big challenge but at the same token it’s a massive opportunity for us to break that drought and to ensure that we are there later on in the year.”

The Matildas explosive winger Sam Kerr is injured for this tournament.

Nevertheless Simon believes the depth in the Australian group will be able to deal with the missing star.

“Sam being out for these games was touch and go,” she said. “But we have depth in our squad we can cover the loss. We have been working with the same squad for the last couple of months and Sam hasn’t been able to train with us in that time so it’s really given us the chance to know how each other plays," she said.

Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Click here to see more of his work and check out the latest episode of his A-League Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.