The Young Matildas were defeated on penalties 5 – 3 by Japan U23 in the final of the AFF Women’s Championship at the Youth Training Centre, Yangon.
The match finished 1-1 after additional extra time with Natalie Tobin’s 21st minute strike cancelled out by Japan captain Koko Kaga in the 49th minute leaving the two top teams deciding the championship from the spot.
A match that was anticipated to be a close encounter between the two class sides of the championship lived up to expectation. Hayley Raso had the first shot in anger in the third minute but Japanese keeper Miho was equal to the task.
Six minutes later Japan had their first sight of Eliza Campbell’s goal when Sayaka Horiuchi cut inside but she couldn’t get enough purchase on the ball to trouble the Newcastle Jets custodian.
After that initial scare the Young Matildas then upped the ante with the sustained pressure bringing the desired result in the 21st minute when Tobin found a little space on the edge of the penalty area and slotted home a deserved opener.
The rest of the half saw the Australians dominate possession with the trio of Raso, Brittany Whitfield and Chloe Logarzo causing numerous problems for the Japanese defence. However the Japanese defence stood tall and withstood the onslaught to only be one down at the half time break.
Australia were to rue their missed opportunities after the break when in the 49th minute Japanese captain Kaga’s deflected shot final beat Campbell to level the match.
Despite an entertaining game of attack and counterattack, and with the heavy pitch and schedule taking a toll on the players, neither team could find the winner in regular time forcing penalties.
With Australia shooting first both countries traded successful penalties but at 3-3 Japanese keeper Miho blocked a Natasha Wheeler penalty leaving Asuka Mitsuhashi and Imai Haruka to convert their spot kicks for the win.
Australia 1 (Tobin 21′)
Japan U23 1 (Kaga 49′)
Japan win 5 – 3 on penalties
Starting XI: 18. Eliza Campbell, 4. Grace Field, 5. Emma Checker, 7. Chloe Logarzo, 8. Natalie Tobin, 9. Olivia Price, 10. Hayley Raso, 11. Brittany Whitfield, 15. Amy Harrison, 16. Natasha Wheeler, 19. Sarah Carroll