(Feb. 25, 2016) - Boston Breakers forward Kyah Simon and the Australian Women’s National Team have arrived in Osaka, Japan ahead of Monday’s 2016 AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifiers. The tournament runs from Feb. 29 through March 9, and the top two teams advance to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil.
Australia, who open qualifiers against 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup runners-up Japan, are looking to reach the Olympics for the first time since 2004. In addition to Japan, (kickoff at 5:35 a.m. ET Monday, Feb. 29), the “Matildas” play Vietnam (Wednesday, March 2, at 2:35 a.m. ET), Korea Republic (Friday, March 4, at 5:35 a.m. ET), Korea DPR (Monday, March 7, at 5:35 a.m. ET), and China (Wednesday, March 9, at 5:35 a.m. ET). The top two teams with the best records advance to Rio. In both 2008 and 2012, those teams were Japan and Korea DPR.
Australia is coming off one of its greatest appearances at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Matildas reached the quarterfinals for the second straight World Cup and narrowly lost, losing to AFC rivals Japan, 1-0, on an 87th-minute goal by Mana Iwabuchi.
Simon had a tremendous World Cup for Australia in Canada last summer. She scored three goals, including two in a 2-0 win over Nigeria in the group stage. She also scored the game-winner in a 1-0 victory over Brazil on June 21, 2015 to open the knockout round. Simon has been capped 57 times for Australia.
Goalkeepers: Lydia Williams (Canberra United/Houston Dash), Mackenzie Arnold (Perth Glory), Casey Dumont
Defenders: Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane Roar), Laura Alleway (Melbourne City), Steph Catley (Melbourne City/Orlando Pride), Alanna Kennedy (Sydney FC), Caitlin Cooper (Western Sydney Wanderers), Caitlin Foord (Perth Glory)
Midfielders: Elise Kellond-Knight (Turbine Potsdam), Emily van Egmond (FFC C Frankfurt), Tameka Butt (Brisbane Roar), Katrina Gorry (Brisbane Roar), Aivi Luik (Melbourne City), Chloe Logarzo (Newcastle Jets)
Forwards: Ashleigh Sykes (Canberra United/Harima Albion), Lisa De Vanna (Melbourne City), Kyah Simon (Sydney FC/Boston Breakers), Michelle Heyman (Canberra United), Emily Gielnik (Brisbane Roar)
Coach: Alen Stajcic