Sport

Waltzing to the Olympics with the Matildas might be out of Ashleigh Sykes' hands

Matildas striker Ashleigh Sykes says "it's hard not to be enticed" back into the fold after helping the Australian women's team qualify for the Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro.

But she thinks the Matildas have such depth it won't be up to her whether she's there – it will be up to coach Alen Stajcic – as she re-iterated an Olympic medal would be the goal in August.

Ashleigh Sykes, in action here against Vietnam, says it is up to Matildas coach Alen Stajcic whether she'll be at the ...
Ashleigh Sykes, in action here against Vietnam, says it is up to Matildas coach Alen Stajcic whether she'll be at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Getty Images

Sykes made herself unavailable for the Matildas late last year and revealed to Fairfax Media she didn't enjoy playing at the international level.

But she answered Stajcic's SOS, following the injury of Larissa Crummer, and in Japan over the last 10 days helped the Matildas' qualify for this year's Olympics.

She scored in the nine-goal romp over Vietnam and was used as a substitute several times throughout the tournament.

The 24-year-old said she would re-evaluate her plans at a later date, but felt she would go to Brazil if picked.

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"It's hard not to be enticed by it when you're surrounded by the energy that's around this group," Sykes said.

"They're a great bunch of girls and Staj has got them doing some pretty exciting things on and off the football field.

"It's pretty exciting to see where the team can go from here and I'll play whatever role that's required of me.

"There's only 16 field players that go to Rio and it's pretty competitive to get a spot in the squad and it may not end up being my choice whether I go or not ... we'll leave that one up to Staj to pick the best team he can."

Stajcic said Olympic gold was the goal now the Matildas have qualified and Sykes backed that up by saying they were looking for a medal in Rio.

The Canberra United forward said the group had progressed since last year's World Cup in Canada, when they became the first Australian team to win a knockout match at a World Cup.

They went through the Olympic qualifiers in Japan unbeaten, winning their first four games before drawing with China.

"We don't want to just go and participate. The Olympics have an appeal to just be involved and to participate is a huge honour," she said.

"But us as a group I don't think we're the type ... to just rest on our laurels. Our goal is to try and get a medal. We think we're good enough and if we keep improving as a group I think we will be good enough."

Sykes will now return to her Japanese club, AS Harima Albion, where she'd barely said hello before she was whisked off to join the Matildas.

She had time to meet her roommates, which included former Brisbane Roar goalkeeper Hoshimi Kishi, and that was about it.

But Sykes jumped on a bullet train on Thursday to rejoin them and has about two weeks to get ready for the start of the season on March 27.

"I basically met the team and where I'm staying and headed off again, so I'm looking forward to getting back there and getting settled in and getting to know the girls a bit," she said.

"We've probably got some trial games organised in the weeks coming up so I'll get a bit more time to settle in with the team and learn their style of play a bit more, get a bit more understanding of the girls, which will obviously help for the first game."