They may be Asian Cup red hot favourites but Matildas coach Alen Stajcic says there will be “no easy moments” after being drawn with Japan, Korea and Vietnam in next April's AFC Women's Asian Cup. 

Currently ranked 6th in the world, this will the Matildas sixth appearance in the Asian Cup finals tournament, where they will be hoping to emulate their 2010 win. In 2014, they were runners-up to Japan, thanks to a goal from Azusa Iwashimizu.

Their favourite status comes after a quarter-final appearance in the 2015 Women's World Cup, qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics, and being undefeated since March this year. The Matildas win against the United States mid-year surprised many - but not Stajcic and the team - and they have continued their fine form against the likes of Brazil, Japan and China.  

Nonetheless the Asian Cup draw is lopsided with Japan and Korea also in the top 10 women's teams in the world, along with Australia. Vietnam is ranked 31st. 

The other group comprises home side Jordan (ranked 50th), China (13th), Thailand (29th) and the Philippines (70th).

Stajcic says he 'embraces' the challenge.

“Obviously it's a very tough draw but one that we embrace and look forward to the challenge of,” he said.

“Having a group like this means there are no easy matches and no easy moments. We have to ensure that we hit the ground running to give ourselves the best possible chance of reaching the knockout rounds.”

The top five countries will qualify for the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.

Categories: News | Women | Asia

matildas, 2018 afc women's asian cup

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