Don't get caught offside! It's been 12 years since Australia sent a women's football team to Rio and we've got everything you need to bluff your way through any conversation with a football fanatic
Danielle Warby, Ann Odong, Erin Byrnes

27 Jul 2016 - 7:30 PM  UPDATED 28 Jul 2016 - 4:20 PM

Who is in it?

12 teams will contest the Olympic women's football tournament: Brazil, Canada, China PR, France, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, USA, Zimbabwe... and of course, the mighty Matildas. Who we aren't actually calling the Matildas, or something. 

The football team formerly known as the Matildas
A name change and a new Olympic uniform for Australia's national women's football team.

Who will win it?

The USA will fancy themselves strong gold medal favourites and in this case, American bravado is not misplaced. They've won 4 out of a possible 5 gold medals since women's football first graced the Olympics in 1996. Prepare to be equal parts annoyed and impressed by the USWNT.

Do we have a shot? 

Definitely. The Matildas are ranked 5th in the world and can beat anyone on their day. If they play the way they did during the Olympic Qualifiers, we'll be in that gold medal game.

Stajcic believes the Matildas have what it takes to stand on the podium in Rio
Alen Stajcic is a man with his eyes firmly set on one goal – taking the Matildas to the top of the world rankings.

Basic rules

Two teams with 11 players each attempt to score goals by kicking a ball with the foot or head (or any part of the body that's not remotely close to the hand) through two goalposts.  The team with the highest number of goals at the end of the game wins. That's really all you need to know.

However, the devil is in the detail and this is the stuff that makes it interesting.... and will help you:

Jargon buster


Any illegal interference with an opposing player.

Free kick

An unobstructed kick awarded when the opposition commits a foul. Can be either direct (a goal may be scored from it), or indirect (the ball must be touched by at least one other player for a goal to be allowed).


Related to free kick, a penalty is a form of the direct free kick. It is a shot taken at goal from twelve yards out defended only by the goalkeeper.


This rule states a player may not become actively involved in play if she is in an offside position when the ball is touched/played by a team-mate.

To be in an offside position the player must be in front of the ball on the opposing team’s half of the pitch with no opposing players between her and the opposing goal-line, with the exception of the goal keeper.

An offside offence is then only committed if the player becomes actively involved in play by interfering or gaining an advantage.

TIP: Whenever the Matildas are called offside, just shout 'she was SO on' and everything will be ok. 

It's not soccer, silly

Not on SBS anyway.

What will you be talking about for two weeks?

Lisa De Vanna

The Australian co-captain is one of the world's best strikers. Her speed causes all sorts of problems for defenders.  De Vanna is heading to her second Olympic Games and could be set to break the Matildas all time goalscoring record.  

Lisa De Vanna opens up about the captaincy, the Matildas’ strike and the Olympics
We can always count on Lisa de Vanna to be candid! And this interview does not disappoint...

The Matildas midfield

Australia’s triple threat of Elise Kellond-Knight, Emily van Egmond and Katrina Gorry are the squad’s security blanket. Reliable yet creative, the trio will again form the solid backbone of the team – with help off the bench from Tameka Butt. But... if they don't perform, we're stuffed.

Australia’s tattoos

The squad will no doubt be at the top of the table when it comes to football, but Australia is definitely in the running for the honour of top tattooed team. Michelle Heyman and Larissa Crummer boast plenty of rad ink, while Kyah Simon and Alanna Kennedy also make valuable contributions. Although admittedly, US goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris gives us a run for our money in terms of tatts and swag.

The new-look US squad

They may be favourites and reigning champs, but you'll see a very different USWNT in the coming weeks. Gone is the legendary Abby Wambach, while the team is also missing veteran Christie Rampone due to injury, Sydney Leroux is missing due to pregnancy. Impact player and team talisman Megan Rapinoe has barely just returned from an ACL injury and isn't fully fit. With 11 rookies in the team, the jury is out as to whether they'll be dancing after the medal matches... 


If you don’t know the name Marta, then man, you’re in for a treat. Like Beyonce, she only needs one name. She’s long been regarded as the greatest women’s footballer in history, and she’s only 30 years old. She’s fast, fit, freakishly talented, and just plain flippin’ fantastic. Honestly, we could just watch her go to work all day. Marta is kind of like Brazil’s version of Cathy Freeman – she’s holding the hopes of an entire country of football fanatics squarely on her shoulders in her home tournament. Brazil won silver in 2004 and 2008, but were bundled out in the quarter finals in 2012, so they’ve got plenty to prove.  

What about the weather?

It’s South American winter, but it’s still going to get pretty hot (somewhere in the mid to high 20’s), which is good news for Katrina Gorry. 

Match Details

Canada v Australia

  • Arena Corinthians, São Paulo
  • Wednesday, 3 August
  • Kick off 3pm (Thursday, 4 August 4am AEST)

Germany v Australia

  • Arena Corinthians, São Paulo
  • Saturday, 6 August
  • Kick off 6pm (Sunday, 7 August 7am AEST)

Australia v Zimbabwe

  • Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
  • Tuesday, 9 August
  • Kick off 4pm (Wednesday, 10 August 5am AEST)


The teams are separated into 3 groups of 4 with each team in a group playing the other once. The teams earn 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss.    

Group stage matches last 90 minutes - split into two 45-minute halves. In the knockout stage, if there is no winner after the 90 minutes, extra time (2x 15 minute halves) and penalty shootouts will decide the contest.  

The top two teams with the most points from each group automatically qualify for the knockout stages and the two best third place finishers join them.  From the quarterfinals onwards it is a straight knockout competition until the three medallists are decided.  

Olympic history

The Australian women have participated in the Olympic football tournament on two occasions: Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004.  

At Sydney 2000 they managed one point (a 1-1 draw with Sweden) but were unable to progress out of the group. Athens 2004 saw better news with a win and draw seeing Australia through to the knockout stage for the first time before losing to Sweden 2-1.  

Matildas "Old Girls": Sally Shipard, midfielder
Sally Shipard lived every child's dream when she went from watching the Matildas in the stands at Sydney 2000, to playing for the Matildas at Athens 2004.
Matildas 'old girls': Thea Slatyer, defender
From 2002 to 2012, Thea Slatyer was one of the toughest, most feared defenders in the game. Slayter was part of the solid Matildas defence through the Athens 2004 Olympics, the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup and won silver and gold at the 2006 AFC Women's Asian Cup and 2010 AFC Women's Asian Cup, respectively.
Matildas "Old Girls": Alicia Ferguson-Cook, midfielder
From 1997 - 2008, Alicia Ferguson-Cook pulled on the green and gold for the Matildas through two World Cups, an Olympic Games and a silver medal at the 2006 AFC Women's Asian Cup.
Matildas "Old Girls": Alison Forman, midfielder and 2000 Olympic captain
From 1989-2002, retired Matildas star midfielder Alison Forman was capped 77 times and captained the side at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. We think she's earned the right then to give the current Matildas squad, FIFA and the FFA some valuable advice and insight.

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