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Matildas lock in South Africa friendly in London


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The Matildas will attempt to kickstart their stuttering Women’s World Cup preparation when they face South Africa in London in October.

Australia will take on the reigning African Cup of Nations champions in a friendly on October 8, before a second game against a yet-to-be-announced opponent in Europe on October 11.

Off the back of two home losses to Canada, Australia is desperately hunting a win, its first since beating New Zealand in April, to regain momentum and ease pressure on coach Tony Gustavsson.

Facing the world No.54 South Africa shapes as a golden opportunity for the Matildas, ranked 12th, to deliver a circuit-breaker.

Football Australia said facing South Africa ensured the Matildas had faced a wide variety of opponents in preparation for next year’s World Cup on home soil.

“To have played a nation from every FIFA confederation will provide the coaching staff and the players with a lot of invaluable information during our final phase of preparations,” Gustavsson said in a statement.

“South Africa are current champions of Africa and a team that is fast rising in esteem in women’s football.

“On the road to their first African Cup of Nations title, they demonstrated excellent qualities as a team and as individuals which should ensure an entertaining and challenging encounter.”

FA has backed Gustavsson but he has been under heat since Australia’s quarter-final exit from the Asian Cup, while ongoing defensive failings and underwhelming results have piled on further pressure.

Australia should benefit from avoiding heavy travel in October, with a plethora of Matildas, including skipper Sam Kerr, based in England’s Women’s Super League.

The Matildas will return to Australia to face Sweden in Melbourne on November 12, with another international friendly planned on home soil for November 16.

-AAP





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