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Michelle Heyman backs Matildas to handle gruelling Olympic qualifiers

It's a moment Michelle Heyman and the Matildas are trying to forget – Japan's late winner in the quarter-finals which ended their World Cup dream. 

But the Canberra United striker is confident the homework the Matildas have done on the world No.2 since will hold them in good stead for the gruelling Olympic qualifying campaign.

Michelle Heyman reflects after Australia was defeated by Japan in the World Cup quarter-finals.
Michelle Heyman reflects after Australia was defeated by Japan in the World Cup quarter-finals.  Photo: Todd Korol

In soccer's version of last team standing, Australia will play five games in 10 days in Japan, beginning with the hosts on February 29.  

Japan crushed Australia with an 87th minute winner in the 1-0 quarter-final win at Edmonton in June. 

The top two teams in the six-country tournament will qualify for the Rio Olympics. 

"We're trying to forget about it [quarter-final] but we've been looking back and watching the bad parts and trying to improve on those," Heyman said. 

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"We've spotted out their weaknesses, and we'll try and throw our strengths at them. 

"I think it's [a case of] more patience.  

"We were under the pump in the World Cup and given it's our first game we'll be a bit calmer on the ball and hopefully make them run around this time.

Australia has incorporated plenty of running into training to cope with the workload and Heyman is confident they will reap the benefits. 

"It's the same for everyone, every team is playing the same amount of games in a short amount of time and it's going to come down to which teams can recover quicker," she said.

"I think four of the teams are in the top 10 or 20 [in the world], and there's no easy teams, but the way we've been training our body's are ready for it.

"Everything's been pretty tough, a lot of running and a lot of physical stuff."

Heyman believes the return to the Matildas fold of Canberra teammate Ashleigh Sykes, who normally plays down the left flank, can help her find a few goals. 

Sykes, who was already in Japan for club football, was brought in to replace the injured Larissa Crummer. 

"Ash and myself have been playing together for six years and know each other quite well," Heyman said. 

"I'm excited to get her back in the team. It was a bit disappointing when she had to step down and walk away, but I think it will be a good environment for her football."

All Matildas qualifiers will be broadcast live on 7Mate.