The 23 players that will spearhead Australia’s push to qualify for its first-ever appearance at the U17 World Cup has been revealed; Junior Matildas’ Head Coach Rae Dower unveiling her 23-player squad for the 2019 AFC U16 Championships on Wednesday.
Drawn in a group alongside host nation Thailand, 2017 third-place winners Japan and Bangladesh for the coming tournament, Dower’s side will need to finish as one of the two best finishers in their group and win their subsequent semi-final in order to secure their place at next year’s World Cup.
As hosts of that World Cup, India is already guaranteed one of its three AFC places.
Australia commenced its journey towards India 2020 in September of 2018, when the Junior Matildas easily topped a qualifying group containing Taiwan, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan and Palestine – scoring 39 goals and conceding none – in the first stage of AFC qualification.
Placed in a group alongside Vietnam, Laos and Iran for qualification’s second stage in March of this year, Australia’s next generation of Matildas, once again, easily advanced as one of their group’s top two sides as they won all three of their games without shipping a goal.
The Junior Matildas – in partnership with the Australian Federal Government and DFAT – most recently completed a three-game tour of the Pacific and a training camp on the Gold Coast in preparation for the coming Championships – which will kick off for the Australians with a game against Japan on 15 September.
Group games against Thailand on 18 September and Bangladesh on 21 September will then follow.
“I’m thrilled to announce the Junior Matildas’ squad to contest the upcoming AFC U-16 Women’s Championship in Thailand,” Dower said on the squad’s announcement.
“We’ve got a really well-balanced team on and off the field and the chemistry developed over the last 12 months together will serve us well in really trying conditions in Thailand.
“During our ‘Pacific Step-Up Tour’ and recently completed camp on the Gold Coast, we’ve been able to trial a number of players from across the group and believe we’ve developed substantial depth across the park.
“We’re excited to play Japan first up and have been working hard on areas of our game where we can be successful. We know the players and staff will represent Australia with passion and pride, and are confident that the principles we’ve been working on will give us the best opportunity to be successful in Thailand.”
Australia’s previous best performance at the AFC U16 Championships was at its 2009 iteration; when a side fielding the likes of Steph Catley, Caitlin Foord, Alanna Kennedy and Sam Kerr topped a group featuring Japan, China and Taiwan.
Unfortunately, the side then went down to North Korea in the semi-finals and losing a rematch with Japan in the third-place playoff to miss out on the World Cup.
Westfield Junior Matildas 23-Player Squad | 2019 AFC U-16 Women’s Championship – Chonburi, Thailand
|Alana JANCEVSKI||NTC Victoria/Football Victoria|
|Bryleeh HENRY||Football NSW Institute/Football NSW|
|Charlize RULE||Football NSW Institute/Football NSW|
|Charlotte FARMER||Queensland Academy of Sport/Football Queensland|
|Claudia MIHOCIC||NTC Victoria/Football Victoria|
|Darcey MALONE||Football NSW Institute/Football NSW|
|Emma ILIJOSKI||Gungahlin United FC/Capital Football|
|Georgia BEAUMONT||Queensland Academy of Sport/Football Queensland|
|Hana LOWRY||Perth Glory FC/Football West|
|Isabella WALLHEAD||Football West NTC/Football West|
|Jamilla RANKIN||Brisbane Roar FC/ Queensland Academy of Sport|
|Jessika NASH||Football NSW Institute/Football NSW|
|Jordan JASNOS||Football NSW Institute/Football NSW|
|Josie MORLEY||Newcastle Jets Academy/Northern NSW Football|
|Kirsty FENTON||Newcastle Jets Academy/Northern NSW Football|
|Mia BAILEY (Gk)||Queensland Academy of Sport/Football Queensland|
|Mia MCGOVERN||Canberra United Academy/Capital Football|
|Miranda TEMPLEMAN (Gk)||Football West NTC/Football West|
|Nia STAMATOPOULOS||NTC Victoria/Football Victoria|
|Paige ZOIS||NTC Victoria/Football Victoria|
|Ruby JONES (Gk)||Newcastle Jets Academy/Northern NSW Football|
|Taneesha BAKER||Football West NTC/Football West|
|Tijan MCKENNA||Cockburn City/Football West NTC|
HEADER IMAGE CREDIT: FFA/ Joseph Mayers