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Keeper to have hands full keeping out world's best

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Fleta Page

Canberra United keeper Trudy Burke faces a big test on Thursday night.

Canberra United keeper Trudy Burke faces a big test on Thursday night. Photo: Getty Images

W-League two-gamer Trudy Burke admits she is being thrown in the deep end on Thursday night when she guards the Canberra United goal against the firepower of Kobe Leonessa, led by world player of the year Homare Sawa.

Sawa beat Brazil's Marta, a five-time winner, for the top award, partly thanks to the five goals she scored in last year's World Cup.

But Sawa is just one of the stars Burke will face in the David and Goliath battle.

Kobe boasts the firepower of seven members of the Japan national team, the reigning World Cup champions, who between them have 470 national caps and have scored 140 goals for their country.

And that includes goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori, who saved two penalties in Japan's shootout with the USA to win the World Cup final.

At the other end, Burke, who six months ago was playing in the NSW premier league, has a chance to prove herself against some of the biggest names in women's football.

''I've only had two games in the W-League, so I do feel there is a bit of pressure for it,'' she said. ''But at the same time, it's more experience for me to get some game time under my belt. I'm really looking forward to get a chance to play against these big-name players and see what I have against them, really.''

So great is the battle that United coach Jitka Klimkova, normally an advocate for attacking football, is changing United's style of play.

''I know [Japan's] style, I know it will be a lot of possession, a lot of technical combinations between their players. So our style will be a little bit different, too,'' she said.

''We have to be focused on our defence … we have to organise great defence and play the counter-attacks and use our speed on the field, which I know we have.''

Sally Shipard was part of the Matildas team which beat Japan on the way to winning the 2010 Asian Cup and knows the key to overcoming the football powerhouse.

''It's honestly a matter of making the most when we've got possession, because when you look at the percentage stats at the end of the game, we've probably got 30 per cent and they've got 70 - they just knock the ball around so well,'' she said.

''We've really just got to make the most of the opportunity when we have the ball at our feet and those goal-scoring opportunities we haven't been capitalising on in the W-League so far, it's going to be a whole new level there.

''We'll be having some little pep talks with Michelle [Heyman] and Georgia [Yeoman-Dale] and the other girls who will be playing up front, just to really make the most of those opportunities when we've got a strike at goal.''

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