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Stajcic backs Australia to bounce back

6 August 2016

SÃO PAULO: Australian coach Alen Stajcic has backed his charges to bounce back against Germany in tomorrow’s crucial women’s football clash at Arena Corinthians.

Stajcic’s team would benefit greatly from taking some points away from the fancied Germans, having drawn blanks in their opening game against Canada two days ago.

Though Australia’s chance at sealing a qualification spot – even in the event of a loss – would be far from dead and buried, a positive outcome would be a welcome boost to a campaign the Australians hoped would deliver a podium finish from the outset.

And Stajcic, who has seen his side achieve three famous milestones in recent years (a record-high finish at the Women’s World Cup, Olympic Games qualification as Asia’s best and an all-time high world ranking) believes those in green and gold will be up to the task.

“We play, obviously, a very good team, one of the two teams in the world who have been number one or two for the past 20 years, so obviously a superpower of women’s football,” said Stajcic.

“We know it will be a tough game, but hopefully we’ve learned from the other night and take a lot of things into the next game and take all the positives that we can and see how we go.

“We know we’re coming up against a very good team but I’m sure if we play at our potential we can beat them, as we can any team in the top 10, and I’ve said it for the last 12 of 14 months, I think the top 10 in women’s football has become very, very close.

“Any team can beat any team on any given day.”

Stajcic will lean on the experience of his German-based midfield pair, Elise Kellond-Knight and Emily van Egmond, for insight into the world’s No.2 ranked team.

Kellond-Knight was a regular for Turbine Potsdam in Germany’s top-tier last season, while van Egmond featured for FFC Frankfurt, who finished the local season in third place.

“We have a huge amount of respect for German football,” said Stajcic.

“At the same time, I know that we’re in the ballpark, we can compete against them.

“On the flipside, I’m sure some of the German girls know about Elise Kellond-Knight, who was named in the FIFA World Cup team last year, and Emily van Egmond, who is one of the rising stars of world football.”

The team will watch the Opening Ceremony from their São Paulo base, with Stajcic underlining the importance of his team involving themselves in the Olympic Games experience, despite being based some 450 kilometres away from Rio de Janeiro at this stage of competition.

“We’re obviously here at the Olympics and I guess, a lot of the players are a bit sad that they can’t actually attend the ceremony, it’s one of the things that I guess every athlete wants to be a part of,” said Stajcic.

“Obviously being in a remote zone, it’s not possible, but we’ll do what we can as a group and we’ll make sure we engage with as much of the Olympics as we can and watching the ceremony as a group will probably be one that we’ll do.”

Tomorrow’s clash between Australia and Germany will take place at Arena Corinthians. Kick off is at 6pm Rio time on Saturday, August 6 (7am AEST Sunday, 7 August).

Ben Coonan

olympics.com.au

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