Matildas co-captain Lisa De Vanna celebrates a goal with Caitlin Foord.
Thursday, 23 June 2016 –
But with limited spots available in Alen Stajcic’s 18-player squad for the Games in Rio, who’s in line to make the final cut? We take a look.
Co-Captain Lisa De Vanna is one of the first picked for Australia and is the only player in the squad to have played at the Olympic Games.
De Vanna is the last remaining player from the 2004 Olympic team which made the quarter finals in Greece, losing to Sweden in the final eight.
The 31-year-old’s absolute class, experience and leadership is vital to the squad’s younger players.
While known for terrorising defences in behind, she showed she can strike from distance too with an absolute rocket in Australia’s 1-1 draw against New Zealand in Melbourne this month.
Perhaps Australia’s most prolific attacker, Kyah Simon is another who is certain to be on the plane to Brazil.
The Sydney FC star has been in devastating form over the past 12 months and was one of Australia’s best at the 2015 World Cup, scoring three times.
She also bagged four goals in five games in the Olympic qualifying tournament earlier this year and will likely start up top for the opening game in Rio against Canada.
One player who has burst into form in recent times is the lightning-quick powerhouse Caitlin Foord.
The 21-year-old was used as an right wing-back at the World Cup but has been thrust further forward in recent matches with devastating effect.
The Wollongong product netted a superb double against New Zealand in Ballarat three weeks ago with her pace and power dazzling the visitors.
The best athlete in the Green and Gold, Foord’s ability to get up and down the pitch coupled with her versatility make her an invaluable asset to this side.
Another banging on the door for a starting berth is Canberra United goal-scorer Michelle Heyman.
The 27-year-old has been a more than capable option for Alen Stajcic when called upon over the past 12 months and provides a genuine goal-scoring option.
A natural goal-scorer, Heyman netted crucial goals against Japan and DPR Korea in Australia’s unbeaten Olympic qualifiers this year and also found the net in a 9-0 drubbing of Vietnam.
An intriguing sub-plot ahead of the Rio Games is the fitness of Glory striker Sam Kerr.
Kerr has struggled with injuries in recent times and is battling to be fit for the tournament after undergoing surgery last month.
When fit, Kerr is one of Australia’s most dynamic attackers and Stajcic will give her every chance to prove her fitness.
One of the youngest players in the squad, Melbourne City’s Larissa Crummer is one player who provides Alen Stajcic with a different dimension in the final third.
Crummer is coming off a breakthrough season in the Westfield W-League where she claimed the Golden Boot award with 11 goals and NAB Young Player of the Year.
A physical player with the ability to hold the ball up and bring others into play, Crummer proved she is a star of the future with a couple of assured performances off the bench at the 2015 World Cup.
Other options for Stajcic in attack are Canberra United’s Ashleigh Sykes and Newcastle Jets’ Tara Andrews, though both weren’t involved against the Kiwis.