‘A massive game’: Matildas set for ‘big test’
MATILDAS goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold is bracing for another busy night when when she forms Australia's last line of defence against a red-hot England at Craven Cottage on Wednesday (4am AEST).
In the absence of regular shot stopper Lydia Williams, Arnold was in superb form for the women's national team in their 2-0 defeat to France last week.
But the undeterred 24-year-old, who plies her trade for Norwegian outfit Arna-Bjorna, is determined to keep world No.3 England - who have gone through World Cup qualifying unbeaten - at bay.
"It was probably my first major game (France) against one of the top 10 teams in the world and personally I was really happy with my performance, distribution wise I could have improved a little bit but I was just happy to be on there playing," Arnold said.
"It's going to be massive game for us (England) but it's a game we have probably been preparing for in a World Cup as well, so it will be a good test for us and for the young ones with fresh legs."
Arnold said it was important for the less-established Matildas players to gain experience leading into the World Cup as it would add depth to the squad.
"It's important for a lot of us who haven't had a lot of game time but with our main starters being away it's a good opportunity to see what we can do and hopefully come together as a team and get the win," she said.
Matildas coach Alen Stajcic said Australia has a great rivalry with England and he hoped the match evokes the same passion and engagement like the other codes did.
"England, having made the semi-finals in the last FIFA Women's World Cup have continued to improve, and under new coach Phil Neville have transformed their playing style while going through undefeated in World Cup qualifying," he said.
Former England international and Premier League player Neville said it had been an incredible year for the Lionesses but the hard work has only just started.
"The next nine months will be crucial and it begins with these friendlies. We're all looking forward to testing ourselves against challenging opposition," he said.
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