The Junior Matildas' heartwarming trip across the Pacific - the first Australian national side to do so in 14 years - is also good football business, says assistant coach Njegosh Popovich.
Popovich has hailed the team's preperation across island nations Tonga and Vanauatu in the lead up to the AFC U/16 Championship, to be held in Thailand.
“I think it’s really good preparation for our girls going into the Thailand tournament because the qualifiers will be very similar,” Popovich told matildas.com.au in Port Vila.
“We’ll have to deal with [the humidity] there and I think it’s important for the girls to have the opportunity to experience it.”
The Junior Matildas now face Vanuatu and Solomon Islands to complete their Pacific tour, before the quality ramps up a notch when they face Bangladesh and bitter rivals Japan in the Thai competition.
The two highest finishers across the tournament quality for the 2020 U/17 World Cup in India.
“[Vanuatu] are a little bit of an unknown quantity,” he added.
“I think that they won’t be as physical as the Tongans but maybe a little bit more technical. I’m sure that our girls with have the power in the end.”
Vanuatu U-19 Women’s National Team v Westfield Junior Matildas
Date: Monday, 12 August 2019
Kick-Off: 3pm local time, 2pm AEST
Venue: Korman Stadium, Port Vila, Vanuatu
Solomon Islands U-19 Women’s National Team v Westfield Junior Matildas
Date: Thursday, 15 August 2019
Kick-Off: 4:00pm (local); 5:00pm (AEST)
Venue: Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara, Solomon Islands