Matildas begin journey to 2015 Women's World Cup with Japan friendly

Taking on the reigning world champions marks the start of the Matildas' long journey to Canada, according to coach Tom Sermanni

His Matildas side may have Japan to contend with on Wednesday, but Australia women's coach Tom Sermanni already has one eye trained on the 2015 Women's World Cup.

The Matildas take on world champions Japan in an international friendly at the National Stadium in Tokyo, as part of the hosts' preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Australia missed qualification to London, so it is the 2015 World Cup in Canada that instead has Sermanni's attention.

The long-serving coach used a two-match series against New Zealand in June to cap several new players, with the likes of midfielder Katrina Gorry and striker Emily Gielnik a chance to follow suit against Japan.

The match could also mark the international return of veteran Kate Gill from a long-term knee injury, with the striker having scored the vital goal against Japan to qualify her country for the 2011 World Cup.

"It's a huge game for them and a big game for us and it's also an opportunity for us to blood some players to have a look at some players against a very strong and confident Japanese team," Sermanni said.

"It's also an opportunity and challenge to us for the first time that we've brought in players from all sorts of different countries. Normally we get together as a team in Australia, travel to the game and play the game now we've got players coming in from Europe and America and so that a new challenge for us.

"I know it sounds a long way off but this is really the start of our preparation for 2015 which is really just around the corner."

Missing the Olympics does sting for Sermanni, however, who criticise the International Olympic Committee and World Anti-Doping Agency for failing to ban North Korean from the tournament for two of their players failing drug tests at the 2011 World Cup.

North Korea and Japan are the AFC's two representatives at the Olympics, but Sermanni believes the former should not be in London: "It's no secret that we were very, very disappointed," said Sermanni, whose side finished third in their qualifying group.

"Fifa took the right action by banning North Korea from the World Cup and we were amazed that the World Anti-Doping Agency and the IOC, who usually take a very strong stance on the use of drugs, decided to take no action whatsoever and allowed North Korea to enter the Olympic qualifiers and then allowed them to qualify and participate in the Olympic Games."

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