Matildas World Cup hopes come down to Jamaica clash

 theworldgame.sbs.com.au  06/14/2019 22:25:27 

Australia triumphed 3-2 against Brazil in the most dramatic win of the 2019 tournament, and can once again dream of World Cup glory.

Upon arriving in the picturesque city, the Matildas saw their Group C rivals Italy thump Jamaica 5-0 for their second win of the group stage.

The result effectively kills the chance of Australia finishing on top of the group.

The Matildas would have to beat Jamaica on Wednesday morning (AEST) and for Brazil to turn over Italy with a combined margin of seven to go through as group winner.

To go through in second, Australia must better Brazil's result - or, if both sides win, win by at least two goals more.

In any case, should Australia snatch at least a point from the Reggae Girlz, they will go through, at worse, as one of the third-placed teams.

But there's an ocean of difference between qualifying in second and in third.

A second-placed finish would see Australia travel to nearby Nice to play the second-placed finishers in Group A; most likely Norway.

A third-placed finish would, most probably, send the Matildas across the country to Le Havre for an intimidating clash with hosts France.

The gulf in fate serves Ante Milicic an almighty conundrum.

Does he play his best side against the Caribbean underdogs, or give key players a rest knowing the challenge that awaits in the knockout rounds?

"It's too early to speak about that," Milicic said.

"We will make a good analysis of (the Brazil) game, and we have an extra day before the Jamaica game so rest and recovery will be just as important."

Sidelined pair Clare Polkinghorne and Mary Fowler are both doubts for the Jamaica game, with most of the squad given Saturday off as a pre-planned rest day.

Milicic won't be downing tools, instead watching the tapes to ensure the lowly-ranked qualifiers carry few surprises for his side.

"Our main focus was the first game for Italy. We put a lot of effort into that preparation, and at the same time Brazil," he said.

"That was no disrespect (to Jamaica,) we knew we would have two World Cup games to go off plus their past games.

"We know it's going to be a different style.

"As always we will go through our analysis, work through opposition strengths and weakness, and come up with a game plan that suits out playing style."

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