Australia women's coach Alen Stajcic plays down Japan victory
Australia women's football coach Alen Stajcic says his team still have a tough road ahead if they are to secure a ticket to the Rio Olympics, despite opening their qualification campaign with a famous 3-1 win over Japan in Osaka.
It was a first-ever win for the Matildas over a former world champion in a tournament match, and the result also ended a six-match losing streak against the Asian champions and London Olympic silver medallists.
Australia went ahead thanks to a rare headed goal from Lisa De Vanna midway through the first half, and Michelle Heyman soon extended the advantage.
The shocked World Cup runners-up bounced back with a Yuki Ogimi strike just before the interval and Australia goalkeeper Lydia Williams was forced into a couple of key saves in the second half.
However, Katrina Gorry restored the two-goal buffer with 12 minutes remaining for a deserved victory.
"We're not even close to qualifying yet," said Stajcic, with just two tickets available in the six-team competition.
"We have four more tough matches ahead, and this is a tournament where any team can beat any team.
"We will enjoy this for an hour or so, but then we will focus on our next match because if we think this is enough, then we won't qualify."
After taking a few minutes to settle in the biting Osaka cold, Australia soon started playing possession football with confidence against the team who eliminated them from last year's Women's World Cup.
Stajcic revealed the team's preparations in recent weeks focused on obtaining a result in the opening game in order to build a strong platform for the remainder of the tournament, which continues with a match against Vietnam on Wednesday.
"We know of course that Japan are a world class opponent, and we prepared for many weeks for this match, and we wanted to play it at our tempo and rhythm, rather than what happened at the World Cup," he said.
"I thought we did that very well and controlled good patches of the game and, even though Japan created some chances as well. I still think we were a threat and executed a lot better than we did six months ago and thoroughly deserved the win."
Australia sit top of the standings on goal difference narrowly ahead of China who could only see off outsiders Vietnam 2-0, while South Korea and North Korea played out a 1-1 draw on a near-perfect day for the Matildas.