Ante Milicic can take a lot of credit for the controlled manner in which the Matildas dispatched the Chileans, who admittedly are well outside the world's top 30. The scoreline reflected our attacking precision, but it didn't reflect our dominance.

La Roja barely got a shot on goal and Lydia Williams was spared the test we all know she needs if the rarely-playing shot-stopper is going to hold onto that coveted Matildas number one spot.

But Chile's impotence was largely stymied by a brilliant Matildas defensive effort. Jenna McCormick was a standout in the backline, her physicality and coolness on the ball (it may be her debut but she's played in front of 50,000 at Adelaide Oval) a much-needed influence on that backline.

The defensive fluidity worked its way through our midfield, allowing us to control the play with ease. We played out of the back with such aplomb - against a side that do have serious attacking quality - that we almost wondered whether we were watching the same team that seemed so shaky at times during the World Cup.

Ellie Carpenter and Steph Catley took it in turns, one half each, to really press forward and contribute offensively. It wasn't a sterling attacking display, but it didn't leave many holes either. Which is arguably more import.

Our ability to track back through Aivi Luik - who just drifts effortlessly around the pitch retaining momentum - and intercept any key forward runs before they built a head of steam was arguably the most impressive takeaway from this performance.

With Alanna Kennedy still to come back into this team, Milicic appears to be solving some of the problems that were presented to him so quickly before the World Cup. It's a promising sign for the future.

But it wasn't all positive...


What we're lacking, and you can always tell in friendlies like these, is cutting edge. Now, you might think that expecting a bunch of top-class internationals, most of whom are coming off long NWSL seasons, to put in 120% when they can fairly easily walk over Chile is too much.

But it's not.

The way you ensure that these players retain that key competitive edge, that allows us to fully judge our potential and make hard decisions about our best starting eleven, is by ensuring that we have greater competition for each starting place.

The current Matildas starting eleven is at least 90% assured of their place. Lydia Williams - who was fantastic today but has barely played a match this year - is a perfect example.

It stems from every position. This team have played together for a long time now and yes, it is hard to argue that natural telepathy isn't a fantastic asset for our squad when Caitlin Foord and Sam Kerr are combining like siamese twins.

But having a young player breathing down your neck, ready to take your spot at any opportunity is a far greater asset going forward. For both the team and Australian football.

McCormick's debut shouldn't overshadow the fact that there are very few new faces in this team and apparently the ones we do find don't come from our youth systems at all.

It's telling that Amy Harrison and McCormick were two of the most dynamic players on the pitch today. Yes, we have an element of strength in depth.

But Luik isn't exactly a spring chicken pressing to take Elise Kellond-Knight's place, neither is Lisa De Vanna really on the cusp of throwing out Hayley Raso. So that depth, especially over the next World Cup cycle, maybe isn't worth as much as we think.

And there's a solution to this...


Looking at the performance of 19-year-old Ellie Carpenter, bombing down that right flank throughout the first half, we were reminded of the massive jump in quality that occurs after you break into the first-team ranks.

Carpenter is one of the most poised, effective players in our Matildas squad and it's the experience she's now accumulated through 36 Matildas caps and a successful NWSL stint that's allowed her to reach this stage.

We look back to the 13 goals our Young Matildas - all around Carpenter's age - shipped against Asian powerhouses Japan and North Korea and it's clear that as the quality of the Matildas is growing, so are the same problems we face in the Socceroos.

This Matildas squad are as exceptional as they are because they were all involved in the national team from a very young age. Yet Carpenter is the only teenager in this squad, and there were only two 23-year-olds as her next youngest, both on the bench.

This isn't necessarily a negative. The successful debut of McCormick and longevity of players like Aivi Luik proves that we can continue to develop our best and brightest for extended periods before they're rewarded with international caps, which they can then accumulate over a far longer career.

But the problems we face at youth level, where we now stand a real risk of failing to qualify for either youth World Cup (even our men's side qualified for the U/17s) poses significant threats for our ability to continue progressing in an ever-increasing female football arena moving forward.