Australia 'can compete with the best countries in the world' - Alen Stajcic
Matildas coach Alen Stajcic says Tuesday's 1-1 draw with England showed that his side can compete with the best countries in the world at next summer's World Cup.
After losing 2-0 to France in Saint-Etienne on Friday, Australia rescued a late draw in London thanks to Clare Polkinghorne's 84th-minute header at Craven Cottage.
The away side were second-best for much of the match and benefitted from some wasteful England finishing, but after being forced to field an inexperienced lineup due to the absence of Matildas regulars Samantha Kerr, Lydia Williams, Katrina Gorry and Hayley Raso, Stajcic was pleased with the display.
"It was a much improved performance from our team and considering fatigue levels I'm really proud of the effort, resilience and spirit that we showed," Stajcic said.
"It really showed that we can compete with the best countries in the world.
"We were probably a bit fortunate to get the draw but I'm pleased with the manner in which we tried to attack and create chances. Overall there's a lot to work on but certainly we showed that if we're fit and fresh we can compete with England and France."
Stajcic decided to rest the likes of Kerr and Williams following a long season playing in the NWSL in the United States, but the coach was encouraged by the performances of some of his more inexperienced players, such as 16-year-old debutant Amy Sayer and 15-year-old attacker Mary Flower.
"Our key for the last two or three years has been to build depth within the team," Stajcic said.
"We don't have the talent and the player pool that some of the bigger footballing countries have. We've got to look after the players that we've got.
"I was really proud of how the three or four young players got on. To have four teenagers on the field and still be able to put out a performance where we are competing with England makes me really proud."
Stajcic also took the opportunity to praise star striker Kerr -- who was named on FIFA's 15-player shortlist for the inaugural women's Ballon D'Or award earlier this week.
"She's probably the most dangerous player in the world at the moment," he added. "There's a bunch of great players on that list who all have different attributes, great technical players and great creative players, they all bring something different but I think Sam is the most dangerous attacking player at the moment."