The Matildas celebration after Emily Gielnik's goal against New Zealand in their Cup of Nations opener. Picture: Brendon Thorne/AAP
The Matildas celebration after Emily Gielnik's goal against New Zealand in their Cup of Nations opener. Picture: Brendon Thorne/AAP

Matildas facing sternest test at Cup of Nations

IT'S set to be the Matildas' sternest test of the Cup of Nations, but coach Ante Milicic says he won't field his strongest team against South Korea on Sunday.

Australia will make at least a handful of changes for the meeting with their Asian rivals, who defeated Argentina 5-0 to begin the tournament.

Alanna Kennedy is almost certain to be one of those.

The defender didn't train on Saturday in Brisbane and should be replaced by Laura Alleway in the starting XI.

"She had sore calves at half-time against New Zealand (although) she wanted to keep going," Milicic told AAP.

"We took her off after 60 (minutes). It's always about the duty of care when you have three games in seven days."

Amy Harrison, Alex Chidiac and Hayley Raso will come into contention for starting roles after their spirited cameos in Sydney, with a host of fringe Matildas eager to nab minutes.

"I need to see as many players as possible perform against decent opposition," Milicic said.

"We'll definitely make quite a few changes from the first game and that applies again for the third game."

Elise Kellond-Knight, who could make way for Aivi Luik or Teresa Polias, said she was excited to play her first Matildas match at Suncorp Stadium but equally keen to see others get a chance.

"(Milicic) had a message when we came together, that every player here is going to play," Kellond-Knight said.

"That's great. I love to be able to rely on my teammates and I love that everyone is going to get a chance out there to prove and put their best foot forward.

"We're mature athletes ... we're at the point where we're really happy to enjoy success as a team."

Australia were first-up winners at the Cup of Nations, accounting for New Zealand 2-0.

Kellond-Knight said the squad was steeling itself for a tough match, given the Koreans kept Australia scoreless in their most recent showdown in the Asian Cup group stages.

"There's no doubt they'll be the toughest match of this tournament," she said.

"I don't think New Zealand really got any pressure on the ball, so it allowed us to play our game.

"Korea is going to be a different story."

A loss to the world No.14 would make it tough for Australia to claim the inaugural tournament.

- AAP

News Corp Australia

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