Young guns Saki Kumagai and Caitlin Foord | (Credit: Getty Images)
Yesterday afternoon Westfield Matildas coach Tom Sermanni selected his 18 player squad to take on Japan next week at the National Stadium in Tokyo.
The squad includes several players from last week's international series with New Zealand with six overseas based Matildas earning a call up and striker Kate Gill returning from an adductor strain and ACL injury.
The match played on Wednesday, 11 July will the 19th meeting between the Asian Champions and World Champions with Japan coming out 1 – 0 victors in last September's Olympic Qualifiers.
In his selections Sermanni has rewarded several standout out performers in the Australia's 2 – 0 series win over Trans-Tasman neighbours New Zealand. Three of last week's debutantes, Newcastle Jets' Alanna Kennedy and Victorian duo Ashley Brown and Stephanie Catley, have also made the flight courtesy of their impressive first performances in the green and gold.
“We’ve had to pick a team that will be competitive as Japan play this match before heading to the Olympics,” said Sermanni.
“With only an 18 player squad it’s about finding the right combination of players for the match we have ahead of us."
The tour also sees the recall of several overseas based Matildas including Boston Breakers duo Kyah Simon and Tameka Butt, Pali Blues' Servet Uzunlar, Colorado Rapids' Brooke Spence as well as uncapped duo Katrina Gorry (Ottawa Fury) and Emily Gielnik (Liverpool Ladies).
Several national team regulars are notably missing from the touring squad including W-League Player of the Year Sally Shipard.
After playing a pivotal role in German side Bayer Leverkusen's retention of their top flight status, Shipard will be returning to Australia for what is believed to be a routine medical "check up".
For Brondby and Brisbane Roar midfield Aivi Luik, a hamstring strain has kept her out while the early end to the Danish season for Canberra United striker Michelle Heyman and Sydney FC's Leena Khamis kept them out of the reckoning.
Other notable omissions include WA pair Collette McCallum and Lisa De Vanna, who are listed as unavailable, while Western New York Flash midfielder Emily van Egmond was unable to gain release from her WPSL Elite club.
"It's another phase in the development of our players and of women's football. We need to now understand that players are going overseas and the down side that comes with that is the challenge of getting them back to play games for us," noted Sermanni.
"However we believe we have got now, through the benefits of the W-League, a large pool of players to choose from so we go into this game with a great deal of confidence."
Meanwhile Nadeshiko will be at full strength with coach Norio Sasaki also naming is 18 player roster for the upcoming London Olympics. At full strength the Japanese squad contains Ballon D'or holder Homare Sawa as well as the AFC Player of the Year midfielder Aya Miyama.
"You have to treat Japan on their merits," stated Sermanni.
"They are the World Champions, they are flying high at the moment and we need to go up there and play to our strengths."
"We have always got a game plan against Japan. You have to realise that when you go out to play against the Japanese that they are probably going to dominate possession."
"Technically, they are going to be superior, so it’s a question of getting the tactics right and then utilising the strengths that we've got within that."
In a send off match for the well supported Japanese Women's National Team, Japan and Australia look to continue their AFC rivalry with the match streamed live via ABC and FFA websites with the full match shown on ABC 1 from 11.30pm on Wednesday, 11 July.
Westfield Matildas v Japan Wednesday, 11 July 2012 Local kick off: 5.10pm (6.10pm AEST) National Stadium, Tokyo
Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Local kick off: 5.10pm (6.10pm AEST)
National Stadium, Tokyo
Head-to-Head: P19: W5-D7-L7
Goalkeepers: Melissa Barbieri (c) (unattached), Brianna Davey (Melbourne Victory) Defenders: Stephanie Catley (Melbourne Victory), Thea Slatyer (Sydney FC), Brooke Spence (Brisbane Roar / Colorado Rapids), Servet Uzunlar (Sydney FC / Pali Blues) Midfielders:
Defenders:Laura Alleway (Brisbane Roar / Lincoln Ladies), Danielle Brogan (Sydney FC),
Stephanie Catley (Melbourne Victory), Thea Slatyer (Sydney FC), Brooke Spence (Brisbane Roar / Colorado Rapids), Servet Uzunlar (Sydney FC / Pali Blues)
Midfielders:Teigen Allen (Sydney FC), Tameka Butt (Brisbane Roar / Boston Breakers), Katrina Gorry (Melbourne Victory / Ottawa Fury), Alanna Kennedy (Newcastle Jets)
Forwards: Ashley Brown (Melbourne Victory), Caitlin Foord (Sydney FC), Emily Gielnik (Brisbane Roar / Liverpool), Kathryn Gill (Perth Glory), Kyah Simon (Sydney FC / Boston Breakers), Sarah Walsh (Sydney FC)
Goalkeepers: Miho Fukumoto, Ayumi Kaihori Defenders: Azusa Iwashimizu, Yukari Kinga, Saki Kumagai, Aya Sameshima, Kyoko Yano Midfielders: Nahomi Kawasumi, Aya Miyama, Mizuho Sakaguchi, Homare Sawa, Asuna Tanaka Forwards: Kozue Ando, Mana Iwabuchi, Karina Maruyama, Yuki Ogimi*, Shinobu Ohno, Megumi Takase
Defenders: Azusa Iwashimizu, Yukari Kinga, Saki Kumagai, Aya Sameshima, Kyoko Yano
Midfielders: Nahomi Kawasumi, Aya Miyama, Mizuho Sakaguchi, Homare Sawa, Asuna Tanaka
Forwards: Kozue Ando, Mana Iwabuchi, Karina Maruyama, Yuki Ogimi*, Shinobu Ohno, Megumi Takase*Maiden name Yuki Nagasato