Emily van Egmond has always been a creative metronome, putting the ball on a string as she forges assists—and pops up with a goal—for her team. Any Jets fans could have told you that. Now, Matildas fans have been reminded too.
The 26-year-old arrived at Campbelltown Stadium on Monday ready to do whatever she could to help the Australian women’s side punch their ticket to Tokyo. The team won 6–0 against Thailand. She left with the match ball after three of the best.
Now, Van Egmond and the rest of the Matildas have just one more group challenge to overcome before the qualifying playoffs: China. Win or draw, and face Vietnam as the final hurdle to Tokyo. Lose, and the 20th-seeded and well-drilled South Korea await.
After her explosive return to Australia’s strike force in Campbell earlier this week, and her key role in the 6–0 demolition, Van Egmond has “full faith” the team has what it takes to pip China, and then roll through Vietnam to the Olympics.
“The good thing is you can see that we’re starting to create a lot of box entries and goal-scoring opportunities,” she told media after the win. “If we can continue that and take that momentum into the game against China, I think it’ll be a positive step for us.”
Her confidence comes after top boss Ante Milicic confirmed she would be moving back to the number 10 position full time. Her three goals and four assists in just 140 minutes of qualification game time hadn’t gone unnoticed.
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“She’s a [No] 10 and we’re trying everything we can to keep her there. She’s got goals in her game, she’s got assists, she’s intelligent, she’s very brave with her passing but also with her positioning and she understands the situation,” Milicic said.
“She’s a footballer. She’s been patient since I’ve been in charge and I think she feels more comfortable as a 10. Hopefully, we can keep progressing with that.”
— Westfield Matildas (@TheMatildas) February 10, 2020
That’s not to say Newcastle’s international footballer has been talking herself up in camp, or with the media, since her explosive performance against Thailand. Quite the opposite—the Novocastrian has never really gravitated to the limelight.
“I’m just happy to support the team in whatever role I’m put in. The most important thing for me is that we’re winning,” she said.
“It’s obviously fun and it’s really enjoyable to play as an attacking midfielder but wherever I’m put, I will do the job. This team is full of a lot of versatile players and a lot of quality and I think we’re super lucky in that regard in that we have a lot of depth.”
The Matildas continue their qualification campaign on Thursday, February 13. They face China at Western Sydney Stadium in Parramatta. The match is expected to be aired on Foxtel and Kayo Sports from 7.30pm AEDT.