Western Australian footballers Lisa De Vanna and Sam Kerr have earned selection in the Matildas’ 18 member squad for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, with the team eyeing medal success in Brazil.
The Australian women’s football team will end a 12 year drought when it competes in Rio, with De Vanna the only remaining member of the squad that last represented Australia at Olympic level, where the Matildas finished fifth at the Athens Games in 2004.
At 31, De Vanna is confident this Matildas squad can go further.
"We want to win a medal,” De Vanna said. "Obviously gold is what everyone is fighting for and dreams about but if we come back with any medal it would a massive boost for women’s football in Australia.”
"The coaching staff has a massive influence on the success of the team, instilling a sense of family and belief that we go out and play with.”
"Along with the skill of the players in this side, it is what sets this team apart from those of the past,” she said.
Australia is set to face Germany, Canada and Zimbabwe in the tournament’s group stage in Rio and Matildas head coach Alen Stajcic believes the team can deliver on its promise.
"We’ve shown in the past 12 months or so that we’re a competitive team now on the world stage and it’s up to us now to prove that we can take that next step and genuinely compete for medals,” Stajcic said
"We are in a very tough group with Canada being the reigning bronze medallists, Germany are a powerhouse and Zimbabwe are a bit of an unknown but having come through the African qualifiers we know they will be tough, powerful and unpredictable.”
Olympic debutant Sam Kerr has overcome a foot injury to claim her place in the Matildas’ squad. The striker, currently playing in the US league, was a member of an historic Australian side that won the Asian Cup, with Kerr scoring in the final as the Matildas became the first Australian football side to win a major title.
The side will now head to Brazil where they will head into camp and play their final match in the lead-up to the Games against host nation Brazil on 24 July.
The Australian side will be the first to compete in the green and gold at the 2016 Games when they take on Canada in Sao Paolo on August 3, two days out from the Opening Ceremony. They will then face world number two Germany in Sao Paolo (August 6) and world number 93 Zimbabwe in Salvador (August 9).
With the selections of De Vanna and Kerr, WA now has 21 members on the 2016 Australian Olympic Team.
Lisa De Vanna