DUBBO'S Ashleigh Sykes is about to begin the experience of a lifetime with the Matildas' FIFA Women's World Cup campaign kicking off on Tuesday.
Canberra United star Sykes received a call-up to the national side following another stellar season in the W-League and is now set to take part in her first World Cup.
The Matildas have an extremely difficult path ahead of them after being being pooled with number two ranked America, Sweden and African powerhouse Nigeria in what has been dubbed the "Group of Death".
In an interview with Football Australia recently, Sykes said her side is perfectly prepared for their opening match against the USA at Canada's Winnipeg Stadium on Tuesday morning (Australian time).
"Everyone is feeling pretty prepared. We've been together for four months and it's been awesome for us to develop our game and come together as a team," she said.
"We have to be ready to go straight away. America is a great team, a winning team.
"It's a tough group stage for us. We're trying not to get caught up in the hype of the teams that we're playing."
The Matildas have suffered heavy losses the past two times they have played America, who have won more than 60 matches since the last World Cup while only losing three.
World Cup winners on two occasions, America possess some of the biggest names in sport, namely Abby Wambach and Hope Solo, but Sykes said Matildas coach Alen Stajcic is ensuring his side focuses on their own performance.
"We're just analysing their games and working out how we can exploit them," Sykes said.
"We're not getting caught up in the big names, just about going out there and playing our football and playing it well."
Sykes is shaping as a key impact player for the Australian side.
The Dubbo product was used off the bench during the recent Cyprus Cup, where her pace and deadly finishing really came to the fore.
In an interview with Fox Sports last week, Sykes said she couldn't wait to come onto the field and take advantage of tired defences.
"I'm relishing it in that role, you don't have to do all the hard work that everyone else does," she said.
"They run on and our strikers tire them out and I can come on and run rampant."
Australia's match against America can be seen on Tuesday morning on SBS with the coverage beginning at 9am.
The Matildas then take on Nigeria on Saturday morning before rounding out the group stage with a clash against Sweden next Wednesday.
The two top teams in each group advance to the round of 16.