Heading into the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, Matildas star Emily Van Egmond says the Australian women’s team is looking to make history by securing the country’s first ever football medal at an Olympic games.
The best result any team has achieved at the Olympics was the men’s side in Barcelona. The 1992 Olyroos featuring Ned Zelic, Mark Bosnich and Tony Popovic finished fourth after losing the Bronze medal match to Ghana.
With just a few days till Australia kick of their quest for gold in their opening group game against Canada, Van Egmond says the Aussies are aiming to accomplish one of sport’s greatest achievements.
“Every single team that have come here have set a goal,” she said. They obviously want to win and we are in that category for sure. We have the talent and the potential in this group to definitely do that. It’s not going to be easy to achieve that goal by any means but it’s a challenge that we are looking very much forward to.
“It’s obviously a major honour for every single player who has been picked in the final 18 player squad. These things don’t come around very often so, we’ve got to be able to take these opportunities with both hands and have a real crack it.”
The Matildas are playing their opening group games against Canada and Germany in Sao Paulo and their remaining game against Zimbabwe will be in Salvador. But if the Matildas make it to the semi-finals, they will have set a date for Rio. However, Van Egmond says the squad is just focused on their upcoming match at Arena Corinthians, on Thursday morning Australian time at 4am.
“There hasn’t been too much talk about Rio,” she said. “The most important thing is for us right now to focus on the games here in Sao Paolo. Our main objective is to obviously get out of our group and from there whatever happens and what situation we are put in I guess we will face that when it comes.”
With a three-week preparation in Brazil Van Egmond says the squad has settled and after arriving at their base camp earlier in the week, the team can feel the excitement of the local population building as the games get closer.
“It’s good to finally be here,” she said. “We’ve had three days in Fortaleza before coming here which has been really good for us. We got a feel for what like Brazil is like as a country and obviously it’s an important few days here for what lies ahead.
“We played Brazil in Fortaleza and we got a good crowd out there which was fantastic to see. It’s a massive footballing country and there is no better way than to experience it by playing football. It’s great to experience the culture they have here and the girls are all buzzing about that and we’re just really looking forward to get into tournament mode and playing those games.
Canada v Australia
Arena Corinthians, São Paulo
Wednesday, 3 August
Kick off 3pm (Thursday, 4 August 4am AEST)
Germany v Australia
Arena Corinthians, São Paulo
Saturday, 6 August
Kick off 6pm (Sunday, 7 August 7am AEST)
Australia v Zimbabwe
Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
Tuesday, 9 August
Kick off 4pm (Wednesday, 10 August 5am AEST)