Matildas get Canada in tough WWC draw

Matildas get Canada in tough WWC draw

Matildas get Canada in tough WWC draw

Source : au.sports.

The Matildas will face Olympic champions Canada, first-timers Ireland, and Nigeria in next year’s home World Cup, giving Sam Kerr’s team a tricky but navigable task to the knockout rounds.

The challenge is now known to Australia and the other qualifiers after a slick draw ceremony in New Zealand on Saturday.

Canada will provide a stern test, but Tony Gustavsson’s Matildas will back themselves to get through against world No.24 Ireland and world No.45 Nigeria.

As top seeds, Australia avoided the six top-ranked countries, led by the two-time reigning world champions and world No.1 USA.

The most interest was therefore in who would come out of pot two to face Australia, with Brazilian legend Gilberto Silva drawing out Canada – the highest-ranked opponent available.

The world No.7 Maple Leafs won gold at the Tokyo Games and narrowly lost their continental championship to the USA 1-0 in July.

They are also recent visitors to Australia, playing two matches last month against the Matildas and winning both.

Australia will be out to avoid a repeat, as if they finish second in their group they will face the Group D winners – most likely to be European champions England – in the round of 16.

“Bring it on,” Gustavsson told AAP in Auckland after the draw.

“Someone was just texting me. Hey, Tony, you got the top rank team from pot two. You’ve got the third ranked team from pot three. You’ve got the top ranked team from pot four. What is this?,” he laughed, before playing out Australia’s route to the final based on rankings.

“England in the first playoff … and then after that, it’s going to be France and Germany on that side of the bracket too.

“Ranking-wise it’s a very, very tough.”

Their opening night opponents in Sydney will be the Irish, who qualified earlier this month for their first Women’s World Cup.

Australia will be hoping for better luck then their last meeting – a shock 3-2 loss in Dublin last year for Kerr’s 100th cap.

The Matildas also have a recent World Cup match with Nigeria under their belt, beating them 2-0 in the 2015 tournament in Canada.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern and a host of football luminaries packed Auckland’s Aotea Centre on Saturday night for the draw.

After speeches, pomp, montages and even dance, USA two-time World Cup-winning coach Jill Ellis brought the trophy to the stage, before the path to silverware was revealed.

For the co-hosted event, expanding to 32 nations for the first time, four groups are based in Australia, including the Matildas’, and four are off to New Zealand, including the Football Ferns.

Groups D, F, and H – headed by England, France and Germany – are off to Australia, while groups C, E and G, with Spain, the USA and Sweden as top seeds, will play their group-stage matches in New Zealand.

The biggest group stage clash is the 2019 final rematch in Wellington, where USA will play the Netherlands in Group E.

Australian-based fans of China, South Korea and Brazil will also be pleased to learn they are based in Australia, as will FIFA, as they look to maximise ticket sales.

The draw will be complete in February when New Zealand host a playoff tournament for 10 teams fighting for three spots.

Earlier on Saturday, Infantino chaired the bi-annual meeting of the FIFA Council, the first such meeting in Oceania.

In a press conference following the gathering, he took aim at broadcasters for their below-par bids to screen the 2023 tournament, which he said were “100 times less” than bids for the male event.

FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP 2023 DRAW

A – New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Switzerland

B – Australia, Ireland, Nigeria, Canada

C – Spain, Costa Rica, Zambia, Japan

D – England, Playoff B, Denmark, China

E – USA, Vietnam, Netherlands, Playoff A

F – France, Jamaica, Brazil, Playoff C

G – Sweden, South Africa, Italy, Argentina

H – Germany, Morocco, Colombia, South Korea

AUSTRALIA’S GROUP STAGE GAMES

July 20 – Australia v Ireland – Sydney

July 27 – Australia v Nigeria – Brisbane

July 31 – Australia v Canada – Melbourne

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