WESTFIELD Matildas coach Tom Sermanni today named the 23 player squad who will travel to Chengdu, China, to compete in the Women’s Asian Cup 2010 from May 19-30.
The 23 players, selected following intensive camps in Canberra and the Gold Coast and matches against New Zealand and DPR Korea, will gather on the Gold Coast on May 4 to begin final preparations before their May 11 departure to China.
Included in the squad are youngsters Teigen Allen and Sam Kerr who, at 16 and 17, join Sally Shipard and Ellyse Perry as two of the youngest players ever to appear for the Matildas at a major international competition.
Experienced goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri will captain the Matildas in what will be one of the team's hardest tournaments to date as the Matildas attempt to reach a fifth consecutive World Cup.
"I'm very happy with the way the girls stepped up to the challenge over the selection period and I'm very proud of those girls who stepped up and pushed for places," said Barbieri.
"We've got a very strong squad with a mix of seasoned campaigners and talented young players who have the benefit of having no expectations and no real pressure on them but the self-confidence to know they deserve their place in the squad.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge of getting the girls together and lifting us to the next level and make sure the girls realise the importance of the matches."
The Women's Asian Cup 2010 consists of eight teams competing for three places available in next year's Women's World Cup 2011 in Germany.
Australia will play host nation heavyweights China, South Korea and Vietnam in Group B with DPR Korea, Japan, Myanmar and Thailand making up Group A.
The top three teams in the tournament will qualify for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.
Making the semi-finals, which requires finishing first or second in Group B, is coach Sermanni's primary target,
"First and foremost, we would like to make it to the last four. If we can make it, we will try our best to make it to the final," he said.
"Winning the (AFC) Asian Cup would be a massive result for this relatively young team."
Sermanni understands that World Cup qualification through Asia is tough but knows the team he has selected, including the return of overseas stars Kate Gill, Lisa De Vanna, Sarah Walsh and Heather Garriock, can make an impact in the competition.
He added: "The World Cup route through Asia is extremely difficult as four of the top 15 teams in the World come from this zone.
"This will be a tough test but the squad we have assembled continues to surprise me with how well they have gelled and I'm sure they will cause some surprises next month in China."
Westfield Matildas squad
AFC Women's Asian Cup 2010
May 19-30, 2010
Teigen Allen (Sydney FC), Melissa Barbieri (Melbourne Victory (Captain) (GK)), Tameka Butt (Brisbane Roar), Collette McCallum (Perth Glory), Kim Carroll (Brisbane Roar), Lauren Colthorpe (Brisbane Roar), Casey Dumont (Brisbane Roar (GK)), Lisa De Vanna (Perth Glory/Washington Freedom (USA)), Heather Garriock (Sydney FC/Fortuna Hjørring (Denmark)), Kate Gill (Perth Glory/LdB Malmö (Sweden)), Elise Kellond-Knight (Brisbane Roar), Samantha Kerr (Perth Glory), Leena Kharmis (Sydney FC), Kylie Ledbrook (Sydney FC), Aivi Luik (Brisbane Roar), Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane Roar), Sally Shipard (Canberra United), Thea Slatyer (Canberra United), Kyah Simon (Sydney FC), Karla Reuter (Brisbane Roar), Servet Unzular (Sydney FC), Sarah Walsh (Sydney FC/Boston Breakers (USA)), Lydia Williams (Canberra United (GK))
Head of Delegation - Leeanne Grantham (FFA)
Head Coach - Tom Sermanni (FFA/AIS)
Team Manager - Simon Roberts (FFA)
Assistant Coach - Robbie Hooker (ACT)
Assistant Coach - Di Alagich (NSW)
Goalkeeping Coach - Paul Jones (ACT)
Doctor - James Ilic (SA)
Physiotherapist - Kate Beerworth (SA)
Assistant Physiotherapist - Lauren Cramer (VIC)
Media Manager - Mark Jensen (FFA)
Equipment Manager - Robert Bird (NSW)