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Japan takes its toll on Canberra United squad

Canberra United received the ''kick up the bum'' it needed at the International Women's Club Championship in Japan and is ready to take on W-League powerhouse Sydney FC, a side boasting ex-United players Ellyse Perry and Emma Kete.

The experience of playing against some of the world's best players was the stimulus the team needed after struggling for form before the tournament.

The players have renewed confidence after leading one of Japan's best teams, NTV Beleza, for 78 minutes, a match they subsequently lost 4-3 in the final minute.

But while they are mentally refreshed for the W-League after their week in Tokyo, the team is physically drained after returning on Tuesday morning.

Having taken overnight flights each way, playing two games in four days, and with injuries to Ariane Hingst (quad tear) and Grace Gill (ankle), the trip took a physical toll.

On the positive side, Canberra has a new import ready to join the club, having signed an American late last week, with the official announcement to come after her expected arrival in Canberra on Thursday.


The striker will be an injury replacement for Ashleigh Sykes, who missed out on the Japan trip with a quad tear, and will stay with the club for at least a month.

United chief executive Heather Reid also made an offer to Japanese national team member Shinobu Ohno to join the club as a marquee player, although coach Jitka Klimkova believes the reality of a reigning World Cup winner joining the W-League champion may be far-fetched.

''That is sci-fi a little bit, but anything is possible with Heather,'' she said.

The signing of the new player comes as a relief for injury-depleted United, which has four games in two weeks, starting with Sydney FC on Saturday.

While the pain is still fresh after losing the third place play-off on Sunday, just before the match was to go to a penalty shootout, Klimkova believes United has played itself into form and is on track to notch up some wins in the W-League.

''I am sure this experience can raise our performance, that's exactly what we needed - a little kick up the bum,'' she said.

''We played really, really well against these strong teams, so hopefully even with Ellyse Perry or Emma Kete or whoever will be on the field, we will be strong.

''The speed of play now I'm pretty sure will be different from our side, we'll be more direct, that's what we wanted to be against [Western] Sydney, against Melbourne, but we just weren't dangerous in the final third, but during these two games [in Japan], that was us again.

''We scored really beautiful three goals, which is helpful for Michelle [Heyman], for Hayley Raso, for Jenny [Bisset] - to score against these teams can just raise their confidence and hopefully they can keep scoring in the W-League.''