The World Cup final-like intensity coach Tony Gustavsson has demanded ahead of Australia’s battle with the USA on Saturday has added to an already special occasion for Matildas stalwart Tameka Yallop.
The 30-year-old attacking midfielder is set to join elite company this weekend at Stadium Australia when she becomes the 12th player to chalk up a century of Matildas appearances.
Yallop, who debuted for Australia as a teenager, said she had “lucked out” in being able to celebrate her milestone on home soil in front of Matildas fans.
“That’s the kind of thing you dream of,” she said.
“Playing on home turf and playing against the world’s number one team for your 100th cap, you can’t really plan it any better than that.”
Throw in Gustavsson’s ploy of mirroring preparations for the 2023 Women’s World Cup final, which will be played at the same venue, and Yallop said the build-up to her 100th match had been second to none.
“It was something that we spoke about as soon as we arrived into camp,” said the former Brisbane Roar and Melbourne City star, who now plays her club football for English Women’s Super League outfit West Ham.
“It’s definitely been on the top of our minds during the camp and during our training sessions, and it’s definitely something that we’re all onboard with.
“It will definitely help us visualise what we could achieve in 2023.”
Yallop has already been part of three World Cup squads in her decorated Matildas career.
She has also represented Australia at four Asian Cups and twice at the Olympics.
Yallop said scoring at this year’s Tokyo Olympics in Australia’s 2-1 win over New Zealand was a standout moment of her Matildas journey.
“Also to score a goal in our first ever win against the USA (in 2017) was pretty awesome,” she said.
“And when we won the Asian Cup (in 2010), that was our first real silverware that we had.
“There are too many to pick just one (career highlight), but those three stand out for me.”
Travel restrictions mean Yallop’s Queensland-based family will be watching “from the couch” on Saturday night.
“Even still, to see the rest of the girls with their families is nice and comforting to see,” she said.
“A lot of us came into this team at a pretty young age and we’ve matured as players.
“We’ve all ventured overseas and experienced different footballing cultures around the world, and, if anything, that’s brought us all closer together and made us a lot more competitive within our team environment as well.
“With the girls that have been here for a long time, it’s pretty special to see a lot of them get their 100th cap, and for me to be a part of that, and for the girls in turn to be a part of mine as well.”