Canberra, Oct 30 : Ante Milicic, head coach of Australia's women's football team said the match against China in next year's Olympic qualifiers will possibly be the most difficult one especially after an impressive performance from the "Steel Roses" at France World Cup in this summer.
"Look, China's results were very impressive in the World Cup. They were eliminated to Italy (last-16 leg) in a game where they had more possession and more shots," Milicic told Xinhua during a teleconference interview on Tuesday night. "They defended well also against Spain (in group match) and have a 0-0 draw, but they're really an emerging team. And also I was very impressed with their physical capabilities. They were one of the strongest teams in that department at the World Cup." The final round of Asian qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic women's football tournament will feature eight teams in two groups.
Group A has the DPR Korea, hosts South Korea, Vietnam and Myanmar while Group B pits Australia, hosts China, Thailand and Chinese Taipei.The top two teams from each group will advance to the two-leg play-offs on a home and away basis, with Group A winners facing Group B runners-up. The two play-off winners will join Japan, who has already qualified as hosts, in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In 2016 Olympic qualifiers, China and Australia grabbed the only two tickets from Asia to enter the Rio Olympics. Milicic told Xinhua that this time it was too early to make the predictions. "At a time it was easy to think that game with China is the most difficult and most important one. But I will say we see what's happening in women's football, the improvement of the other teams and investment. So you know, we'll definitely go and take the all three games at the same value."
"We are going to have a very difficult match. But at the same time, we also have an opportunity and we look forward to facing China. "Milicic this week named a 21-player squad for Australia's two forthcoming international friendlies at home against Chile.
Australia's roster for the upcoming encounters against Chile on November 9 and November 12 features 18 players that ventured to this year's FIFA Women's World Cup in France.
"These two games against Chile will be our only fixtures prior to February's first phase of qualifying for Tokyo 2020, so we will be treating them with the utmost concentration and professionalism as we aim to make great use of our time together." said Milicic.(XINHUA)