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Matildas to face Spain in Cup of Nations as Women’s World Cup preparations ramp up

Matildas to face Spain in Cup of Nations as Women’s World Cup preparations ramp up

  • Mini-tournament locked in for February across NSW venues
  • Czech Republic and Jamaica also feature in six-game event

The Matildas will test their World Cup credentials in a four-team mini-tournament involving Spain, Czech Republic and Jamaica next month as preparations ramp up ahead of the global showpiece event on home soil later this year.

The upcoming Cup of Nations was announced on Thursday, with world No 7 Spain in particular presenting coach Tony Gustavsson an opportunity to run the rule over his side against top-class opposition ahead of the Women’s World Cup, which starts on 20 July in Australia and New Zealand.

Spain are considered serious contenders for the World Cup title and have a team packed with talent, despite missing two-times Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, who is recovering from a knee injury.

Australia, led by captain Sam Kerr, will kick off against the Czech Republic on 16 February at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford before meeting Spain three days later at Parramatta’s CommBank Stadium. They round off the tournament against Jamaica at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle on 22 February. All match days will be double-headers featuring all four teams.

“Spain, Czechia and Jamaica have been carefully selected for the Cup of Nations to ensure we have the right preparation heading into the Fifa Women’s World Cup,” Gustavsson said.

“Not only are all three nations filled with quality, but they also provide a difference in playing style and approach with the three-match days aiming to mirror tournament group play to the best of our ability.

“As a team, we love playing at home and the Cup of Nations will provide that opportunity to fully experience the ‘12th player’ support from Australia.”

While the Czechs, ranked 28th in the world by Fifa, have not qualified for the World Cup, FA chief executive James Johnson said he expected a high quality tournament.

“Three of the four sides will be aiming for success at the Fifa Women’s World Cup, and we expect the quality of the six matches to be world-class,” he said.

The Matildas are slated to kick off their World Cup campaign against Ireland at Sydney’s 45,000-capacity Allianz Stadium on 20 July, but given high demand for tickets there is growing support to have the game moved to the 83,500-capacity Stadium Australia at Homebush.

FA is in favour of the venue switch, but any move would need to be first given the green light by Fifa. Australia’s remaining games in a tough Group B are against Nigeria at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium and Olympic champions Canada at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

This post was originally published on this site

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