Above: Melbourne City star Dani Galic (right), who has had a major breakthrough season in the A-League Women, takes her place in the Young Matildas squad. Photo: Keep Up.
Young Matildas head coach Leah Blayney has selected a 23-player squad to travel to the Kyrgyz Republic next month for the first round of the 2024 AFC U-20 Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers.
Australia’s U-20 Women’s National Team will face Guam and hosts Kyrgyz Republic in Group C of the Round One Qualifiers with the group winner progressing to Round Two in June 2023.
Selection of the squad has followed three training camps and international matches over the past six months that saw 43 different players called up for the start of the new U-20 cycle.
Blayney said that the selected players are eager to commence the qualifiers positively in Bishkek.
“I can’t fault the way all the players have undertaken the preparations for the Round One Qualifiers over the past six months,” Blayney said. “Their diligence and enthusiasm made the selection of the final 23 an incredibly challenging one with so much talent available across Australia.”
“Our final 23 reflects the needs of the squad to ensure balance across all positions with the players named providing unique attributes to the collective. We have been diligent with our scouting network with the mixture of Liberty A-League Women’s, National Premier Leagues, metro and regional, and international players sending the message that we will consider any footballer we believe can be valuable to our ultimate goal.
“Qualification for the 2024 AFC U-20 Women’s Asian Cup will be a long process and, while those who were not selected this time around would be disappointed, it is important to recognise their contribution in elevating the training standard and highlighting that there will be several future openings.”
For a majority of the roster, it will be their first taste of international competition football at the U-20 age group with only seven players returning from the Young Matildas 2022 U-20 Women’s World Cup campaign.
The squad sees strong representation from the Liberty A-League Women’s competition with 19 of the 23 currently on the rosters of ten different clubs. Several have starred in the competition with strong performances across the 15 rounds of the 2022/23 season. Seven different Member Federations are also featured including a number of players from regional Australia.
“This will be an important trip for us to not only ensure we progress to the next stage but also ingrain good foundations that will benefit us across the next two years,” Blayney continued.
“Regardless of the opponent, we take every match seriously as they are not only occasions where we can develop but also where we can establish strong habits for future tests. There is an unknown quality to the opposition which by necessity means we need to ensure full focus on our own performances, continued building of cohesion and executing our playing style.”
Players and staff will depart Australia on 3 March 2023 with the Young Matildas’ opening match kicking off at 8.00pm on 6th March 2023 (local time) against Guam with the second tie against the Kyrgyz Republic taking place four days later.
YOUNG MATILDAS SQUAD:
Alexia APOSTOLAKIS Defender, Western Sydney Wanderers. Tegan BERTOLISSIO Defender, Macarthur Rams. Milly BOUGHTON Midfielder, West Ham United. Ava BRIEDIS Midfielder, Melbourne Victory FC. Claudia CICCO Forward, Wellington Phoenix FC. Jynaya DOS SANTOS Forward, Sydney FC. Gemma FERRIS Defender, Western Sydney Wanderers. Tahlia FRANCO Goalkeeper, Sydney FC. Daniela GALIC Midfielder, Melbourne City FC. Sasha GROVE Forward, Canberra United FC. Shay HOLLMAN Midfielder, Sydney FC. Kahli JOHNSON Forward, Western United. Zara KRUGER Midfielder, Brisbane Roar FC, Chloe LINCOLN Goalkeeper, Canberra United. Maya LOBO Defender, Macarthur Rams. Tijan McKENNA Defender, Perth Glory. Alana MURPHY Midfielder, Melbourne Victory FC. Emilia MURRAY Forward, Adelaide United FC. Jessika NASH Defender, Melbourne Victory FC. Ella O’GRADY Forward, Football Queensland QAS. Sienna SAVESKA Forward, Western Sydney Wanderers. Anika STAJCIC Forward, Sydney FC. Grace WILSON Goalkeeper, Adelaide United FC.