The city of Newcastle and Matildas players will push their claims for World Cup opportunities when Australia take on Chile at McDonald Jones Stadium on November 13.
Penrith (November 10) and Newcastle were on Monday announced as venues for a two-match series with Chile, which is part of preparations for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.
Newcastle set a record crowd for a Matildas match on September 16 last year when 16,829 came to McDonald Jones Stadium to see Australia defeat Brazil 3-2.
Football Federation Australia chief operating officer Mark Falvo said the return game was a vote of confidence in the city.
“It’s a great opportunity to reset that record, and I think the Matildas know, and FFA know, that by coming to Newcastle this great national team will receive a very warm welcome,” Falvo said.
He said the match was also a chance for Newcastle to push for higher honours.
“Newcastle hosted a semi-final and a third-place play-off among other matches during the [men’s] Asian Cup in 2015,” he said.
“There were some tremendous memories from that major tournament and we are bidding for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023. This is a great opportunity for Newcastle to show what it’s capable of doing.”
Chile, the world No.39, qualified second behind Brazil in South American qualifiers for the cup. Matildas assistant and former Jets A-League coach Gary van Egmond said the matches against the “unknown quantity” were a chance to trial players and combinations ahead of cup selections.
“It will be great for us to see them first hand and play against them,” Van Egmond said. “We want to create more competition and the more we have, the more depth we will create.”
Van Egmond’ daughter, Emily, will be among the stars expected to play against Chile.
“She’s very parochial, she loves Newcastle,” Gary said.
“She will be looking forward to the game, as will all the Matildas girls, but for her it’s a little bit special.
“I think it’s great it’s in Newcastle. It’s such a parochial crowd that wants to come out and support, but it’s also so important for the young players to come out and see the superstars they look up to.”
He expected the Matildas to continue testing rising talent in the matches.
“There’s a number of young girls who are starting to come to the fore, as we saw with Mary Fowler and Amy Sayer,” he said.
“That’s probably been one of the biggest focuses for the last 12 months, in regards to building depth, and hopefully we can see that in this game.”