Matildas' US tests perfect Asian Cup prep

Steph Catley rates the Matildas' two games against the US as key preparation for the Asian Cup.
Steph Catley rates the Matildas' two games against the US as key preparation for the Asian Cup.

Vice-captain Steph Catley has labelled the Matildas' two upcoming friendlies against world champions the United States as the perfect preparation for their Asian Cup tilt.

Australia play the US in Sydney on Saturday and Newcastle next Tuesday in their final camp before January's continental tournament in India, which they'll be aiming to win for the first time since 2010.

"You can't go wrong with games like that, it just exposes you to high-level international football in all different senses," Catley told AAP.

"For some of our younger players it's invaluable experience and for some of us veterans, it's just another big challenge, something we're always looking forward to.

"It's great preparation going into another major tournament, the Asian Cup.

"We just love having games at the moment and you can't go wrong with playing the best in the world."

While a host of American stars, including Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, aren't travelling to Australia for the game, Catley was wary of a squad packed with fringe and young players.

"Playing against the US is always tough, and although they've got some new players that's almost a tough task in itself because they're fresh and they're hungry and they want to prove themselves," she said.

"I've played in America for a long time and I know what a strong, fast American who wants to prove themselves looks like."

Catley is back to her best with English powerhouse Arsenal after calf injuries and a serious hamstring tear derailed her first full WSL season.

"Last year I felt like I didn't do much in life in general," she said.

"It was COVID (lockdown) and I wasn't able to be on the park, I was just injured all the time. So it was pretty rough.

"This year it's been great. We've come back from the Olympics and pretty much just gotten straight back into it and had Champions League and FA Cup, the league itself.

"It's just been pure football, tonnes of games and obviously we've started really well and it's fun out on the field."

The 27-year-old is also relishing an unfamiliar experience of competing for a starting spot, with in-form Irish defender Katie McCabe pushing the Australian every step of the way at Arsenal.

"It's a new situation for me but it's part of the reason why I came over to one of the best clubs in the world," Catley said.

"I wanted to challenge myself and I wanted to be in an environment where I'm with players that are pushing me every single day and that's exactly what I've got."

Australian Associated Press