April 5 (Reuters) – Australia women’s team have enjoyed unprecented success in recent years and hope to continue that momentum in friendly matches against Scotland and England as they prepare for the World Cup on home soil.
Tony Gustavsson’s side are unbeaten in 10 of their last 13 matches, winning seven on the bounce, and can continue that streak when they play Scotland on Friday and England on Tuesday in London.
The matches are key preparation for the Women’s World Cup, which kicks off on July 20 and will be hosted in Australia and New Zealand. Winger Hayley Raso said the Matildas, who finished a best ever fourth at the Tokyo Olympics, are hitting their stride at just the right time.
“We’ve made a lot of progress,” said Raso, who also plays for English side Manchester City. “We’ve been preparing for (the World Cup) for a while now. And you kind of go through ebbs and flows.
“We had a great tournament at the Olympics, and we’ve been riding those waves a little bit, but it’s really good to be coming into form at this point in time, because we have the tournament right around the corner.”
Australia, ranked 10th in the world, have played three games this year, beating the Czech Republic, Spain and Jamaica by a combined score of 10-2. Their narrow 3-2 win over Spain was revenge for last year’s 7-0 thumping.
The Matildas’ two other losses in 2022 came against Olympic champions Canada, who they’ll face in the group stage at the World Cup.
Scotland failed to qualify for the tournament, but do have some quality players including forward Caroline Weir, Raso’s former team mate at Man City before she joined Real Madrid this season.
“It’d be really nice to see a familiar face in that side,” Raso said.
“I was actually speaking about her with few of the girls earlier and I was saying she’s one of the best players I’ve ever trained with. She’s an amazing footballer, technically so good. So it’d be really good to have this tough game and to get to play against her.”
Australia should face a tougher test against the Lionesses. England, ranked fourth, are the reigning European champions and one of the favourites to win the World Cup.
Friday’s game against Scotland is at Plough Lane in London, while Brentford’s Community Stadium hosts Tuesday’s friendly with England.
Editing by Christian Radnedge
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