Matildas wary of complacency in crunch semi-final

Ben McKay

The Matildas are refusing to entertain the idea of taking Asian Cup opponents Thailand lightly as they aim to secure a place in the final of the tournament.

Australia play rank underdogs Thailand tonight (AEST) in Amman, Jordan, for a shot at securing their third-straight Asian Cup final berth.

The Matildas will face either China or arch-rivals Japan if they win through to the final of the Asian showpiece event.

But first the Aussies have to get past Thailand - a side 24 places behind them in the world standings - who they thumped 5-0 just three weeks ago.

"We prepare the same whether we're playing Thailand, Vietnam, America or Norway," coach Alen Stajcic told media on the eve of the Thailand game at King Abdullah II Stadium.

"We give everyone the utmost respect.

"We have a playing style and a philosophy we like to impose on the match and it doesn't matter who we play against, we play the same way with the same intent and the same positivity.

“Whether they're ranked one or 200, we always prepare and play the same way.

"That ensures we have the consistency, maturity and professionalism in our team that we need to have because anyone who is complacent in sport usually gets bitten on the backside.

"That's certainly not in our team.

"We're preparing as hard and as thoroughly as we can and we'll do everything we can to win this match."

The Aussies needed a late Sam Kerr equaliser against Japan to seal their place in the World Cup and their progression through to the knockout stages of the Asian Cup.

After conceding, Australia's goalkeeper Lydia Williams had that sinking feeling.

"I just thought 'oh no here we go again'," Williams said.

"Japan knocked us out of the World Cup 1-0.

"The last Asian Cup they beat us in the final by 1-0.

The Matildas thumped Thailand 5-0 the last time they met. Pic: Getty

"They have that little bogey goal in them, they've knocked us out quite a few times.

"They're a great team and one we have a great rivalry with.

"So they're still in the back of our minds."

Australia have had their recent successes too - denying Japan a place at the 2016 Olympics and beating them at last year's Tournament of Nations.

And of course, both sides are yet to book their place in the final.

The Matildas beat Thailand 5-0 in their last meeting, an Asian Cup sendoff game in Perth last month.

Williams admits they're a step down in class but says Australia can't afford to let up.

"Our semi might be against a weaker opposition in Thailand but we can't put anything aside. They're going to come out and they're going to want to win," she said.

"It's not our first time around for a lot of us ... we've been conditioned to know every game, in a knockout phase, we have to be ready."