The Matildas are already Asian Cup favourites but coach Alen Stajcic is expecting “no easy moments” after drawing reigning champions Japan.
Perennial threats South Korea and Vietnam also lie in wait in Jordan next April, when Australia will play for silverware and a spot at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
Asian Cup groups
- Group A: Jordan, China PR, Thailand, Philippines
- Group B: Japan, Australia, Korea Republic, Vietnam
Based on recent results the Matildas should progress to the semi-finals as one of the top two in Group B, though will have their work cut out against Japan and Korea in particular.
Group A is significantly more straightforward, featuring host nation Jordan, fellow minnows Thailand and the Philippines along with China, who the Matildas twice beat convincingly in Australia last month.
Stajcic embraced the challenge.
“Obviously a very tough draw but one that we embrace and look forward to the challenge of,” he said after Saturday’s draw in Sweimeh.
“Having a group like this means there are no easy matches and no easy moments.
“We have to ensure that we hit the ground running to give ourselves the best possible chance of reaching the knockout rounds.”
The top five countries will qualify for the World Cup in France.