Defence a matter of pride for Matilda

Ed Jackson |

Matildas defender Alanna Kennedy expects the power of pride to lift Australia’s defensive standards at this month’s Women’s Asian Cup.

Recent friendlies against Brazil and the United States have deepened question marks about Australia’s defensive record under coach Tony Gustavsson.

In 16 games under their Swedish boss, the Matildas have conceded 37 goals with just two clean sheets.

That is a record which certainly doesn’t sit well with Kennedy, who has arrived in Australia’s pre-tournament camp in Dubai full of confidence following a return to fitness and form in England with FA Women’s Super League club Manchester City.

After a stop-start beginning to her City career with niggling injuries, Kennedy has featured in their past two matches including a 6-0 thumping of Brighton last Sunday where fellow Matilda Hayley Raso got on the scoresheet.

“The back end of last year I had a little bit of an injury so I’m just coming back into more minutes on the field and just back into form and growing my confidence on the field again after being in-and-out for a while,” Kennedy told AAP.

“I feel as though I’m in a good place and I always love playing for my country.

“Obviously as defenders we take pride in not conceding goals and that’s something that we try to do every game.

“Of course we’ll be priding ourselves on that again this tournament.”

Kennedy has been a part of Australia’s past two Asian Cup campaigns, which have ended in heartbreaking 1-0 final losses to rivals Japan on both occasions.

It’s a hurt that the 26-year-old will be drawing on when the Matildas arrive in India before the tournament, which starts on January 21.

“Yeah definitely. Having fallen short the last two Asian Cups, we’re definitely looking to go that one better this time around,” she said.

“I know there’s a few of the girls who were in the team when they won it in 2010.

“That’s obviously been a long time since then it’ll be really nice if we can get some silverware at the end and I think we have the team to do it.”

Australia face Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand in the group stage of the tournament.