Football 1 year ago

Matildas can win Olympic medal: De Vanna

  • Matildas can win Olympic medal: De Vanna

    BALLARAT, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 04: Caitlin Foord of Australia (R) celebrates a goal with team mate Lisa De Vanna of Australia during the women's international friendly match between the Australian Matildas and the New Zealand Football Ferns at Morshead Park on June 4, 2016 in Ballarat, Australia. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)

Lisa De Vanna can feel in her heart that the Matildas are on track to win Australia's first Olympic football medal.

De Vanna has been a part of the Matildas set-up for more than a decade, and says there's never been such a strong belief that the squad can make history in Rio.

On the eve of the team's official farewell friendly against New Zealand at Etihad Stadium, the 31-year-old co-captain recalled Australia's "complacent" women's squads of the past that had neither competition for spots nor the conviction to challenge the world's best.

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Now at an all-time high world No.5 ranking thanks to February's successful Olympic qualifiers, and motivated by the drive of coach Alen Stajcic, De Vanna says the Matildas are ready to go further than last year's impressive World Cup quarter-final run.

"What we've achieved in the last 18 months, I've dreamt in 10 years of playing football," De Vanna said.

"And the way we feel going into Rio is a strong belief that we can take it to the world and actually get a medal.

"We're going for the medal. I actually believe that in my heart.

"In the past it's always been numbers and talk, but this time it's a feeling and a belief we can do it."

The closest any Australian team of either gender has come to an Olympic medal was at the 1992 Barcelona Games, where the Olyroos finished fourth.

The Matildas haven't qualified since Athens in 2004, when they made the quarter-finals.

Fresh from Saturday's 2-0 win over New Zealand's Football Ferns in Ballarat, Stajcic's side are in Melbourne preparing for Tuesday night's rematch - the last time the full team will be together before reuniting in Brazil next month.

It will be the first time Australia's two national teams have played a double-header since 2006, when the Matildas played Mexico before the Socceroos took on Greece in a World Cup send-off at the MCG.

"It's going to be a great hit-out, not just for myself but for the team," De Vanna said.

"It just shows we're starting slowly to get on that path where we can make football as one - men and women.

"So to get the fans and support and family to come out and watch us prepare for our last two games before Rio is fantastic."

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