NEWCASTLE midfielder Emily Van Egmond says the pressure is on the Matildas to meet new expectations when they take on Brazil in a two-game series on home soil.
And the 24-year-old hopes success across the matches at Pepper Stadium in Penrith on Saturday and McDonald Jones Stadium on Tuesday night will lead to the national women’s squad having more chances to shine in Australia.
Van Egmond, who plays for VfL Wolfsburg in the women’s German Bundesliga, joined the Matildas camp in Parramatta on Monday ahead of the Brazil series. Newcastle Jets Gema Simon and Chloe Logarzo were also joining the squad this week from their overseas clubs.
The Matildas are back together for the first time since their breakthrough Tournament of Nations win in August in America. There they beat the US for the first time before thumping Brazil 6-1 in their decisive final match.
The success has carried on with Sam Kerr’s goalscoring heroics in the US, Monday’s ground-breaking W-League collective bargaining agreement and Tuesday’s news the Matildas were finalists for The Don Award for great Australian sporting feats of 2017.
Van Egmond hoped the Matlidas could convert the excitement around the team into support for more major matches in Australia, including the 2023 World Cup.
“With success comes pressure and it’s just something we have to deal with, but the girls are just super buzzed to have home games,” Van Egmond said on Tuesday. “If we can build on that, get some success in these two games against Brazil, who knows, hopefully there’s more home games in the future.”
The former Jets skipper and W-League player of the year said it was nice to have higher expectations on the side after their tournament win but she was wary of Brazil bouncing back.
“We should be full of confidence, but at the same time, Brazil are a quality team and they've got a bunch of individuals who can turn it on at any moment,” she said.
“They are Brazilian in their mentality and I don't think that they are going to like that we beat them 6-1, so I'm sure they are going to come out with a point to prove.
“Given that, I think it's going to be a good challenge for us. We're playing at home for the first time in a while, in front of a sell-out crowd at Penrith and I believe Newcastle have got a decent amount of tickets sold.
“Women's football in Australia is exciting at the moment. The W-League CBA just got announced and it's awesome to see those conditions are a lot better.
“I think things are definitely looking up so now it's up to us as a country and as a national team to uphold that expectation.”
Van Egmond has played at home at McDonald Jones Stadium only a handful of times and said it was special to get the opportunity with the national team.
“To be able to play in your home town in front of all your friends and family is not something everyone gets to experience so I'm super excited for that,” she said.
“But I'm more just super buzzed for the games in general, to come home and play for your country. I can't remember the last time we had a home game, it's been a while.
“It's also good for the the fans to come out and see us in such big games against a footballing country like Brazil.”
As for a return to the Jets, Van Egmond, who is contracted at Wolfsburg until 2019, said: “I'm not too sure what the future holds, but I'm with Wolfsburg and I'm enjoying my time there.”
She paid tribute to former Matildas teammate and Jet Katie Gill for her work in delivering the new deal for Australian female footballers.
“We’re very fortunate to have a players’ association in the PFA who do such a great job in steering us in the right direction,” she said.
“Someone like Katie Gill is spearheading that, which is awesome. She’s an ex-player, she’s been through it all herself and she’s done nothing but great things to push the game forward.”