Matildas lands in Japan, Kellond-Knight can’t wait to play host country

The Matilas have officially arrived in Japan for their pre-game training camp in Nara, with Elise Kellond-Knight speaking to the media ahead of their final tune-up.

“The process actually went pretty well and everyone looks pretty fresh today,” Kellond-Knight said of the Matilda’s transition from Sweden to Japan.

“Japan is similar to Australia in terms of humidity, so for us it’s like home.”

The Westfield Matildas have arrived in Nara City for one final training camp. The last time the team was in Nara was before qualifying for Rio.

Warmly welcomed, the change of venue from Sweden to Japan marks the final stages of the team ahead of their Group G opener.

Kellond-Knight said she was thrilled with Westfield Matildas’ next game against Japan on Wednesday July 14 at Sanga Stadium in Kyoto, their last game before the competition begins.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to play against her home country at home,” she said.

“We haven’t played against Japan or an Asian country for a long time now, we have mainly played against European nations.

“We’re getting to know each other again and we’re excited. Playing against Japan is always a fun opportunity, it’s such a technical team and it’s a really fun game to play.”

Following their match against Nadeshiko, the Australians travel to Tokyo on July 17 as they settle in to take on their trans-Tasmanian rivals New Zealand.

Mathilde in Nara
The team has arrived in the Japanese city of Nara for final preparations

Asked about the challenges of playing the tournament without the physical support of family, fans and spectators, she said it was something the team had grown used to as a new normal.

“A lot of us played during the pandemic without a crowd, so it’s familiar,” she said.

She also added that the lack of spectators did not change their end goal of performing well, and that the beauty of the broadcast and social media meant that the supporters could still support the team.

MORE: The Matildas team locked up

“You can always follow our journey, the social media and the TV are great, you can get a lot of information, it’s almost like you’re playing the game.

“Of course, it’s not the same, but there are many ways to connect with us in one way or another.”

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