China PR dashed Australian hopes of a berth for the 2018 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup with a 3-0 win over the Young Matildas in the third place play-off at the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship in Nanjing.
A first half goal from He Luyao gave the Steel Roses a slender lead at the break before two goals in the second half sealed qualification.
China kept to their semi final line up while Australia made 10 changes and it was the Chinese who started the match the better.
Strong on the ball, the Steel Roses created a host of chances forcing saves from Jada Whyman before making the breakthrough in the 19th minute.
A set piece saw a drive at the near post from Liu Jing with He Luyao taking advantage of the rebound ball to fire past a despairing dive from Whyman.
Australia struggled to find rhythm throughout the match with Princess Ibini providing the main outlet.
Despite China pushing for a second goal, the Young Matildas held on to keep the half time deficit to one.
Just after the break, China did make a double breakthrough to put the result all but beyond doubt.
Zhao Yujie went close early with a strong run before shooting high but not long after Xie Qiwen doubled the lead with another solo effort. This time Xie’s run was rewarded as the finished near post.
Confidence low, Australia’s hopes were finished off when Whyman – who had been strong all tournament – fumbled a soft Jin Kun shot a minute later.
In control, China were never challenged as they qualified for France 2018 after missing out on the 2016 edition.
“It was very disappointing,” said Ellie Carpenter post match.
“We thought we would come here and qualify for the WOrld Cup. It was important to us and obviously we didn’t come out the best on the day and China deserved to win that match.”
Young Matildas coach Gary van Egmond also showed disappointment in the end of Australia’s campaign.
“In regards to today, I think the occasion was probably too much for our girls,” he said.
“I think they overthought it a bit, and we probably left it to the last game to give our worst performance.”
It has been 11 years since an Australian women’s youth representative has qualified for U17 or U20 Women’s World Cup and Van Egmond addressed the question of youth development in Australia.
“We have to work with our development pathway to produce better technical players and players with better understanding.”
“In the first half we struggled to string two passes together, and when you play the game we want to play – which is based on keeping the ball – this becomes a big issue.”
“I’m extremely proud of the girls’ effort throughout the tournament, but today was too big a step, and I’d really like to congratulate China on their win.”
China PR 3 (He Luyao 20′, Xie Qiwen 53′, Jin Kun 54′)