Matildas should aim for top four: ex-coach
Former Matildas coach Tom Sermanni, now at the helm of world No.1 women's football nation USA, believes Australia should be eyeing off a top four finish at the 2015 World Cup.
Speaking ahead of his side's match with the Matildas in San Antonio on Sunday (Monday AEDT), Sermanni said he saw a team that could match it with some of the world's best.
"If you give the Aussie team another two or three years leading up to the next World Cup in 2015, there is no reason why Australia can't go past the quarter-finals as has been the case the past two times," he said.
"If you look at age of the Australian team and their technical ability, then it hasn't reached its peak yet.
"Even when the Matildas lost to Sweden at the last World Cup quarter-final, the statistics prove that Australia could have won the game."
Sermanni enjoyed a prosperous eight-year spell in charge of the Matildas, and was head-hunted by the two-time world champions late last year.
Australia have been in the top ten of the FIFA rankings since 2007, and under Sermanni achieved wins over the likes of Germany, Brazil, Japan and England, as well as successive Women's World Cup quarter-final appearances.
Sermanni says the young talent in Australia is comparable to any in the world, with teenage utility Caitlin Foord named the young player of the tournament at the last World Cup, while attacking full-back Elise Kellond-Knight was included in the competition's all-star team.
"A lot of people misjudge the Australian team and talk about their competitiveness and their physical quality," said Sermanni.
"But when you look at the Aussie team they can compete with any other team in the world.
"There is an inordinate amount of talent in the Australian team and they have a hugely competitive element to their game.
"When you look at the age of the team, it means the future looks extremely bright."
That said, the Matildas face a massive challenge against the US at the Alamodome having never defeated the Stars and Stripes in 24 previous meetings.
Under Sermanni the US have enjoyed a 13-match unbeaten streak, but with both teams out of season the Matildas will harbour hopes of an upset.
"I think at this stage of both teams' preparations (for the World Cup), results aren't necessarily the most important thing," Sermanni said.
"For all nations looking forward to 2015, it is a case of assessing players and their strengths and weaknesses. If Australia get a good result it will a great thing for the team as a whole."