Australia star Ellie Carpenter is hopeful of adding the AFC Women's Asian Cup to her growing trophy collection, with the Matildas going into this month’s tournament with the aim of maintaining their status as “the number one team in Asia”.
Carpenter joined seven-time European champions Lyon in 2020 and has picked up a Champions League title and the French cup since, following two pieces of silverware at home with Melbourne City.
She’s yet to pick up a major trophy with her country though, with 2010 champions Australia one of the favourites going into this year’s Asian Cup, having reached the last three finals.
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What has been said?
Speaking in an exclusive interview with GOAL, Carpenter said: “I think any major tournament is exciting. This Asian Cup is definitely going to be the most competitive. There are so many great nations now, especially in Asia, and the level is getting higher and that's just credit to every country, and the league and their development as well in women's football.
“We want to win it and remain the number one team in Asia. That's our ambition but it only comes around every four years so we're excited.
“For me, being a part of the Matildas, we haven't won what we would have liked to win in the past, but definitely one thing that I would love to do with this team is win the Asian Cup.
“Last time, we fell short to Japan in the final, but one thing that we would love as a team is to get that silverware in the Asian Cup.
“Then, we want to build towards the World Cup at home [next year]. That's massive for us. We're trying everything that we can do to be in the best shape possible come that tournament and hopefully create something special that no one else has done before.”
‘My first Matildas trophy would be a proud moment’
Carpenter has plenty of experience in winning trophies already, despite being just 21 years old. The full-back was part of the Melbourne City team that won the Premiership and Championship titles in Australia in 2020, before joining a very successful Lyon side.
However, her experiences with the Matildas have not been as triumphant yet. She was part of the team that reached the semi-finals at the Olympics in 2021, but lost in the last four and then lost the bronze medal match to the U.S. women’s national team.
She was also involved as Australia reached the Asian Cup final in 2018, where they were beaten 1-0 thanks to Kumi Yokoyama’s 84th minute strike.
Asked if the latter experience will be on her mind for this year’s tournament, Carpenter said: “I definitely think so. Every time we play Japan, it's always a tough game, or it's always a 50-50.
“We never like to lose, especially not twice against the same opposition in the same tournament. We'll be very hungry to win and we want to obviously lift that trophy at the end.”
On what winning that first trophy with her country would mean, the young defender added: “It would mean a lot. I'm very excited for the tournament and hopefully we can do that.
“I guess it'd be five, six years in the making to lift the first trophy with the Matildas. It would be a proud moment.”
When does the Asian Cup begin?
The 2022 edition of the Asian Cup kicks off on January 20, when China take on Chinese Taipei. Hosts India will then face Iran later that day.
Australia’s first match comes on January 21, when they face Indonesia. Also in their group is the Philippines, led by former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic, and Thailand.
The final will be played on February 6 at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.