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Football: Australia begin Asian Cup defence against world champions Japan

World Cup winners Japan were drawn with Asian Cup holders Australia, hosts Vietnam and tournament debutants Jordan in Pool A in May. Photo: WSG.

World Cup winners Japan were drawn with defending champions Australia, hosts Vietnam and debutants Jordan in Pool A of next year’s Women’s Asian Cup, which will be held in Ho Chi Minh City in May. Photo: WSG.

November 29, 2013: Australia will begin the defence of their AFC Women’s Asian Cup title next year against FIFA Women’s World Cup winners Japan following Friday’s draw in Ho Chi Minh City for next May’s tournament. The top five teams at the 2014 Asian Cup will qualify for the 2015 World Cup in Canada.

 

The Matildas, who won the continental crown for the first time in 2010 after edging out DPR Korea on penalties following a 1-1 draw, will be joined in Group A by hosts Vietnam and tournament debutants Jordan. Eight-time champions China, Korea Republic, Thailand and Myanmar make up Group B.

 

Hesterine de Reus, who replaced Asian Cup winning-coach Tom Sermanni as Australia boss at the start of the year, said she was happy with the draw despite the high-profile match-up with Japan.

 

“I think the two groups are very equal, so I am very happy to have Japan in the group,” said De Reus, who won 44 caps for the Netherlands women’s team.

 

“I’m happy with the change in the draw mechanism to have the four big countries put into the two groups, so I’m looking forward to a very competitive competition. We’re eager to qualify for the World Cup.”

 

De Reus, 51, was formerly in charge of the Jordan women’s team, having previously coached the Netherlands U-19 women.

 

“I worked in Jordan before I took this job, so I know Jordan a bit. We watched all the teams at a tournament in Myanmar in September and there are still six months to go to get information about our opponents, so I think everything is well organised and planned.”

 

Despite winning the 2011 World Cup, Japan have never won the Asian Cup, losing to Australia in the semi-finals in 2010 before their historic triumph in Germany a year later.

 

Hosts Vietnam are seeking a maiden appearance in the knockout stage, while Jordan are the first West Asian nation to qualify for the finals.

 

China won the last of their eight titles in 2006, having also reached the semi-finals on home soil in 2010, while Korea Republic last reached the final four in 2003. Thailand won the title in 1983, but are seeking a first appearance in the knockout stage since finishing third in 1986, while Myanmar have yet to progress beyond the group stage.

 

Moya Dodd, Chairwomen of the AFC Women’s Committee, an AFC Vice-President and a former Matilda, said: “This is our showpiece tournament for women’s football in Asia and it has produced great excitement in the past and I am sure it will again in Ho Chi Minh City next May.

 

“We have traditional powerhouse nations. Japan are current world champions, Australia are the current Asian champions, and Korea Republic and China have also been very strong.

 

“There are also some rapidly improving teams, especially in the ASEAN region, as Vietnam are a strength now as well as Thailand and Myanmar. For the first time ever we have a team from West Asia competing in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup finals, which is an achievement in itself.”

 

For AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2014 news, visit:

http://www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/women/afc-womens-asian-cup-2014.html

For AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2014 schedule and results, visit:

http://www.the-afc.com/en/afc-womens-asian-cup-2014-schedule-results.html

 

Sources: WSG & AFC

 

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