MATILDAS goal-scoring hero Emily van Egmond loves playing on home soil and the City of Newcastle are hoping a record crowd at McDonald Jones Stadium can help inspire the Australian women's football team to seal a place at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Matildas tackle Vietnam at Turton Road on Friday, March 6, in the first leg of a home-and-way series.
The second leg will be in Vietnam on March 11, with the winner on aggregate securing a place in the 12-team tournament in Tokyo.
Van Egmond produced a stunning strike in injury-time to snatch a 1-all draw against China on Thursday night to seal top spot in their group and an easier assignment in the final stage of qualifying. They have won the past seven encounters against Vietnam, who are 25 places below Australia in the world rankings at number 32.
Had the Matildas lost to China, they would be taking on South Korea
"Once it left my foot, I knew it was in," the proud Novocastrian said of the equaliser . "Credit to the girls, it was a team performance and I could not be prouder of the group.
"We want to carry that momentum into the next phase and look to have a really good game against Vietnam in Newcastle.
"I encourage everyone to come out and support us. We love playing on home soil so grab your tickets and we will see you in Newcastle."
The battle with Vietnam will be the third time the Matildas have played in Newcastle in the past three years.
A then Australian-record crowd of 16,829 fans watched Sam Kerr score a hat-trick to the lead the Matildas to a 3-2 win over Brazil in 2017.
In 2018, the Matildas thrashed Chile 5-0 in front of 12,649 fans.
Newcastle lost the record for the largest crowd for women's football in 2019 when 20,029 were on hand at Bankwest Stadium to watch the Matildas edge Chile 2-1.
"Until last year, we held the attendance record for a women's football match in Australia," said Newcastle councillor Peta Winney-Baartz, who was joined by dozens of excited junior players at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday to launch the match. "What we want to see is people getting to the game and getting that attendance record back off Sydney. We need to hold that record.
"Girls and women's football, especially, are very strong in Newcastle. I know that New Lambton have nearly 40 teams of women's and girls. It is hugely popular in Newcastle and I don't think we will have any problems getting 20,000 here on a Friday night."
The Newcastle Jets have the bye in the A-League on the weekend of March 5-8 and the Knights kick-off their NRL season eight days later against the New Zealand Warriors at McDonald Jones Stadium on March 14.
Venue NSW Newcastle manager Dean Mantle said interest in the match had been strong and he was confident of a crowd over 20,000.
"I think it's achievable," he said. "We have had strong crowds for the previous two Matildas games and the support for the team is huge at the moment."