EXCLUSIVE: Superstar Kyah Simon wants it known a World Cup is just four months – and she’s quietly confident after last week’s feisty Matildas camp in Canberra.
Nineteen year old Simon is strongly tipped to lead Australia’s attack at the 2011 Germany World Cup in June.
Last week, a squad of players gathered for four days In Canberra for the first official pre-World Cup training camp as competition for the 18 outfield spots intensifies for a team crowned Asian Cup champions in 2010.
With Simon - who cleaned up at Monday night’s A-League and W-League awards winning Player and Young Player of the Year, and Golden Boot for her 11 goals with her W-League club Sydney FC - and a bevy of young and exciting talent vying for four or five striking spots, the talent pool for the Australians has deepened considerably over the last four years since the Matildas last played at a World Cup.
“And it’s only going to get more competitive as we get further down the line,” Simon told au.fourfourtwo.com. “It’s just a matter of who wants it more and who wants to fight for it more.
“I’m just glad I’m not in [coach] Tommy’s shoes when he has to pick this squad. But I’ve got faith he’ll pick the right team that’ll go over to Germany with a balance of form and experience players.”
Simon singled out her Sky Blue teammate Kylie Ledbrook as stamping her authority on a squad place after last week.
Others point to talented Sydney FC striker Catherine Cannuli and 16-year-old defender Caitlin Foord as also catching the eye in a training squad that has also featured Canberra’s Ellie Brush and Newcastle’s Hayley Crawford.
“Nobody’s played their way out of a squad spot so far,” Sermanni told au.fourfourtwo.com. “The competition for places is intense and it’s the highest I’ve ever seen.
“I’m very pleased and I think there really is awareness by the players of competition for places. But there’s also a confidence and a focus and an ambition in the squad. That’s the sense I’m getting.”
Australia has been drawn alongside Brazil – who they play in their group opener on June 26 in Moenchengladbach – followed by Equitorial Guinea and Norway.
“We’ve set a goal to be in the top eight or even better and I wouldn’t put it past this team to do better than that,” said Simon.
Australia reached the quarter finals at the 2007 World Cup in China only to be defeated by a Marta and Formiga-inspired Brazil 3-2.
“If we go one step better or even further the feedback for the Matildas is only going to get even bigger,” added Simon.
Following June’s World Cup, Australia will play in 2012 Olympics qualifiers in China this September.
In other news, Matildas captain and keeper Melissa Barbieri is set for a short stint in the Danish league before returning to Australia in early April to continue World Cup preparations.
And Canada has been awarded the hosting rights to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.