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Kewell, Viduka and co. our inspiration, say Matildas

17 September 2007 08:50

HANGZHOU, China (AFP) - A resurgent Matildas point to the inspiring breakthrough of the Socceroos last year as a key driver in their quest to qualify for the women's World Cup quarter-finals for the first time.

Still considered minnows in women's football, Australia find themselves top of Group C after winning their opener against Ghana for a maiden World Cup victory in 12 years, and drawing 1-1 with former champions Norway.

Victory over Canada on Wednesday will catapult them into the knockout rounds against all the odds.

Midfielder Alicia Ferguson said the success of the Socceroos at the men's World Cup in Germany "was when Australia really woke up to the game" and the Matildas need to match those exploits to take the women's game to a new level.

"We get bits and pieces sent through from what's being written back home or online and it's been great to see that the press has been so positive," she said.

"But it's still just a start as far as I'm concerned. To really make an impact, we definitely need to qualify for the quarter-finals because I think it's only then that people will take notice.

"It's important to grab the public's attention, and after what happened with the Socceroos last year we have to be optimistic about what can be achieved.

"The effect that has had is just amazing, and although I'm not saying things will change overnight, I don't think it's unrealistic for us to expect a similar boost to women's football if we can go the quarter-finals and beyond."

As well as putting Australia on the map, the Socceroos' performance in Germany, where they reached the last 16 for the first time, had knock-on benefits for the domestic A-League, which surged in popularity.

Ferguson and her teammates hope a quarter-final appearance here will do the same for them.

"Our domestic situation certainly needs sorted because at the moment our league set-up is pretty non-existent and we end up playing against boy's teams more often than not," said the 26-year-old.

"I just hope that this competition, and this team, can provide the impetus we need to get things up and running in that respect."

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