Above: Young Matildas eligible players Hana Lowry of Perth Glory (left) and Western Sydney Wanderers’ Bryleeh Henry (right) pictured with head coach Leah Blayney. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Football Australia.
The Young Matildas have been confirmed as one of the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) three representatives at this year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup which Costa Rica will host.
This will be the first time since 2006 that Australia will participate in a FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, and their third overall appearance at the youth championships.
Originally planned for 2020, the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will run from 10th-28th August 2022 across the two host cities of San José and Alajuela.
With the cancellation of the 2022 AFC U-20 Women’s Asian Cup, the standings of the 2019 AFC U-19 Women’s Championship were used to determine the representatives from Asia. Following the withdrawal of North Korea from the nomination process, Australia received an invitation courtesy of being the next highest-ranked Member Association from the 2019 edition.
A participant the last time Australia took their place in the U-20 World Championship, head coach Leah Blayney expressed her delight at the news and the importance of the opening presented to her young charges.
“The opportunity for our Young Matildas to show the world their abilities as individuals, and as a group, will be a game-changer for women’s football moving forward,” Blayney said.
“Very few youth players get the opportunity to play on the world stage and this is a tournament that has introduced us to global superstars like Marta, Christine Sinclair, Alex Morgan, Dzsenifer Marozsán, and Asisat Oshoala.”
“The last time we qualified in 2006, I was a player, and to now have the chance to lead these young women to the tournament, it fills me with great pride but also determination to ensure we maximise the opportunity. This has come at a fortuitous moment where we as a nation are actively seeking higher-level match minutes for our youth players at all levels.”
“This class of players have demonstrated through their performances in the A-League Women’s competition that they have enormous potential, and this could accelerate their football education. The impact this will have moving forward for the 2024 Paris Olympics, 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2032 Brisbane Olympics is phenomenal.”
Football Australia CEO, James Johnson, welcomed the inclusion of the Young Matildas said: “The participation of the team in this year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, will be a significant moment for the next generation of players.
“Under the guidance of Leah Blayney, over the past 12 months, we have seen several players from this cycle transition into the senior team. Now many more of the U-20 players will have the invaluable experience of preparing for a major tournament that will provide critical experiences of high-level international minutes against a diverse range of opponents.”
The 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica will be the 10th edition of the tournament and features 16 nations from six confederations with players born on or after 1 January 2002 eligible to compete.
The participating teams will be divided into four groups of four teams with the Official Draw scheduled to take place in San José, Costa Rica on 5 May 2022.