Emerging goalkeeper star Eliza Campbell.
Emerging goalkeeper star Eliza Campbell. Blainey Woodham

Matildas on Campbell's mind

COBAKI soccer prodigy Eliza Campbell has done her future Matildas prospects no harm by impressing with the Australian under-16 women's team during the AFC Under-16 Women's Championship in China earlier this month.

The 16-year-old goalkeeper was only introduced into the tournament with two games to play, but proved she should have been in goal from the start.

In her first game of the tournament, against DPR Korea, Campbell was forced to produce a number of exceptional saves as the Australians desperately tried to stay in the game, as they needed to win to have any chance to qualify for the Under-17 Women's World Cup.

Despite Campbell's efforts, a DPR player sent a header into the roof of the net with just seconds on the clock for a 1-0 win.

The Australian team had conceded seven goals in its opening two games, and Campbell had to make at least five saves in a courageous effort in goal.

She started against eventual tournament winners Japan and helped Australia to another 1-0 loss.

Campbell said Australia suffered from a lack of preparation as they had a limited number of camps and just one warm-up game against New Zealand - which was Campbell's first game representing Australia.

"We had only had four or five training camps together ahead of the tournament, where a team like China had been playing together for a year," she said.

"The head of the FFA said we were under prepared and said we would get more opportunities next time.

"We played better each game and developed as a team the longer the tournament went on.

"If we had more preparation, and played more games in the lead-up, we would have done quite a lot better," Campbell said.

"It was more about the experience though and we know more about how Asian teams play football, they are very technical."

Campbell has played soccer since she was seven, and started as a junior with Bilambil.

She has gone on to play for the Queensland Academy of Sport in Brisbane, and attends the Australian Sports College at Runaway Bay.

"It is quiet next year but the following year I can try and get in the under-19 squad, then try and get in the Matildas after that," Campbell said.

"It's my dream to play for the Matildas."

Australia finished sixth in the group, with only the first three progressing to the under-17 Women's World Cup.

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