The Australian Women’s National Team will get a crack at the reigning World Cup champions Japan on Wednesday in Tokyo, and two Breakers got the call-up by Australia Head Coach Tom Sermanni.
Striker Kyah Simon, who leads WPSL Elite with 12 goals in 11 games this season, and midfielder Tameka Butt, who has two goals in limited action due to ankle trouble, headed to Japan Sunday to prepare for Wednesday’s friendly against Japan. The match takes place at National Stadium in Tokyo, with kickoff scheduled for Wednesday, July 11, at 5:10 p.m. local time. (4:10 a.m. EST).
"I’m pretty excited to play for Australia again," Butt said. "We play them in our confederation (Asian Football Confederation), and they’re the toughest team over there to play."
Butt and Simon last played for the "Westfield Matildas" last September in the AFC Olympic qualifiers in China. Butt’s last appearance came on Sept 11 when she scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory over South Korea. Simon last played on Sept. 8 in a 1-0 win over China. Butt and Simon scored once each Sept. 3 in a 5-1 win over Thailand. Two days later, Australia lost, 1-0, to Japan. They finished third at qualifiers, one spot away from reaching the Olympics. It’s safe to say that Australia wants a win this time around.
"Them coming off the World Cup as champions, that’ll be a lot of motivation for us," Simon said. "They’ll be in peak position. We’re in a building phase for the next World Cup. I think it’ll be good being back with the group. It’s been a long time. I’m definitely looking forward to meeting back up with the girls."
This Australia squad called up to play Japan Wednesday includes a handful of players from Australia’s 2011 World Cup team - Butt, Simon, Melissa Barbieri, Laura Alleway, Servet Uzunlar,Teigen Allen, and Caitlin Foord - a group that reached the knockout stage before falling to Sweden. The team that's primed for Japan is primarily a young group, Butt said.
"Half the team is up-and-coming and new players like Katrina Gorry and Emily Gielnik, so I think it’ll be a good experience for them," said Butt, who plays alongside Gielnik on her W-League club, Brisbane Roar. "Since the W-League started (in 2008), I think it’s really helped develop players."
Simon said she’s looking forward to getting together on the field with some of the new players.
"I’m excited having young and up-and-coming players in the squad," she said. "Everyone’s familiar with each other and played somewhere with each other along the lines. I think the more experience will give them more confidence."
Butt and Simon are due back in time for Saturday’s game at home against the Philadelphia Fever, Boston’s final home game of the 2012 WPSL Elite season.