Matildas' campaign for cup kicks off

WITH the Matildas opening match of the World Cup only eight weeks away, the coach of Australia's national women's football team says that this week's matches against New Zealand will be an invaluable exercise in the team's preparations towards the massive tournament to be held in China through September.

"New Zealand will be a similar style to a couple of teams that we'll come up against in the World Cup, Canada and Norway," Tom Sermanni said yesterday after the Matildas' training session yesterday.

"All of this year basically, all we've done is play Asian teams and that kind of football which is a different type of football to the Europeans and our type of football."

During yesterday's session at the Novotel Pacific Bay training ground, playing a scratch match on a field reduced in size, Sermanni said that it was time to step up the intensity of the work and the style of play.

"We're trying to increase the tempo that we're playing at, that's why we kept it in a reasonably confined area," he explained.

"It was also trying to get us transitioning quicker for when we lose possession and when we get it back again."

The Matildas yesterday had their first day of a six-day training camp in Coffs Harbour and the coach knows so close to the World Cup that this camp will prove integral to the selection of the final squad.

"It's valuable from the perspective that we're at the stage where positions in the teams are up for grabs and players are playing to get places in the World Cup."

"It's good to do that against opposition rather than just being in the same environment against the same players."

The Matildas will tackle New Zealand today at the Pacific Bay training ground. Kickoff is at 3pm. A second match will be played at the same venue on Sunday at 1pm.

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