The Women's Asian Cup gets underway in Jordan on Friday night local time (Saturday morning in Australia) with the opening match between China and Thailand, followed by the host nation up against the Philippines. 

The tournament boasts four of the top 20 teams in the world, headlined by the Matildas at number 6, followed by Japan (11), South Korea (16) and China (17). The first three of those teams - Australia, Japan and South Korea - are in the same group, along with Vietnam (35).

In addition to Thailand at number 30 in the world, China faces Jordan (51) and Philippines (72) in their group. 

The tournament also serves as the qualifying tournament for the Women's World Cup to be held in France next year, with the top four teams automatically qualifying, while a play-off on 16 April between the teams finishing fifth and sixth will see a fifth team from Asia in France.

This means that one or other of Australia, Japan or South Korea are the most likely to be playing-off for the fifth spot for the World Cup, while Thailand, Jordan or the Philippines are in the box seat probably to join China to be amongst the top four who automatically qualify. Thailand also qualified fifth in Asia for the 2015 Women's World Cup. Many observers believe it may well be the best opportunity ever for Jordan to earn the fourth position because of the dual advantage of the lop-sided draw and home support. 

Australia are the hot favourites to win the tournament after remarkable performances over the past two years, but other teams have also had a solid match build-up. For example, while Australia defeated Thailand 5-0 in their farewell match in Perth recently, Japan defeated Ghana (46), 7-1. 

China, under Icelandic coach Sigurdur Ragnar Eyjolfsson, Japan and South Korea all participated in the Algarve Cup in Portugal with the Matildas. China lost every match (to Portugal, Norway and Australia) other than the 11/12 play-off against Russia. Japan suffered a big loss to eventual finalists, Netherlands, 2-6, defeated Iceland and Denmark, and then lost the 5/6 play-off to Canada. South Korea had a win, draw and loss against Russia, Sweden and Canada respectively. Their 7/8 play-off match against Norway was abandoned due to inclement weather. 

Australia had two wins (v Norway and China) and a draw (v Portugal) in the group stage of the Algarve Cup, and lost the 3/4 play-off against Portugal, 1-2. 

Players to watch

  • Australia: The Lot really - but Sam Kerr
  • China:  Wang Shanshan
  • Japan: Saki Kumagai
  • Jordan:  Stephanie Al-Naber (pictured right)
  • Philippines:  Marisa Park 
  • South Korea:  Ji Soyun
  • Thailand:  Orathai Srimanee
  • Vietnam: Dang Thi Kieu Trinh

Australia's group stage matches (all Australian Eastern Standard Time)

  • Sunday 8 April, 3am:  Australia v South Korea
  • Wednesday 11 April, 3am:  Vietnam v Australia
  • Friday 13 April, 11.45pm:  Japan v Australia 

Thailand (Orathai Srimanee left) at the 2015 Women's World Cup, Canada

Categories: News | Women

matildas, women's asian cup

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