Matildas to benefit from home advantage

Pamela Whaley
The Matildas are confident playing in Sydney will help them in upcoming Olympic qualifying matches

Under threat of the deadly coronavirus, relocation of next week's Olympic qualifying games from China to Australia is set to give the Matildas an unexpected but welcome home advantage.

With the full schedule due to be announced within the next 24 hours, FFA boss James Johnson said the last minute bid to host the three games against Taiwan, China and Thailand will be a boost for Australian football.

Much of the current Matildas squad has not played a competitive game in Australia, but will now have the chance to earn a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on home soil.

"I remember a quote, I think it was by Winston Churchill: 'never let a good crisis go to waste', and I think that's what we've tried to do here," Johnson said on Tuesday.

"There's a challenge for the team and they were upset, they were nervous about going to China.

"Our sole objective initially was really to ensure they could focus on the football and provide a healthy environment, stress free for the players.

"I think we were able to achieve that when the competition was moved out of China, that was a decision that we supported and certainly pushed.

"The next point was, where's it going to go? We thought it was a great opportunity for Australian football in general but also for the girls to play in front of a home crowd where we can start building a lot more interest around the team which is what we want."

FIFA is expected to be closely monitoring the situation considering the FFA's bid to host the 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

"It's going to be a good opportunity to show what Australia can do, especially putting together a tournament in a limited time frame and if we can get good support along and good results it's only going to benefit the bid," Matildas veteran Clare Polkinghorne said.

The FFA has confirmed all three matches will be held on the original dates, with venues to be announced as soon as possible.

Stadiums under consideration are believed to include Leichhardt Oval, Netstrata Jubilee Stadium and Bankwest Stadium.

The Matildas are scheduled to play Taiwan on February 3, Thailand on February 6 and China on February 9.