Two goals from Katrina Gorry and Tameka Butt saw the Matildas comfortably see off China in Game 1 of their two match series.
Two goals from Katrina Gorry and Tameka Butt saw the Matildas comfortably see off China in Game 1 of their two match series. Hesterine de Reus' side showed glimpses of what could be while two young players were rewarded for a great year.
1. Elements are starting to come together
Slowly but surely we are starting to see the Hesterine de Reus game plan; the high pressing, quick transition game plan. This was the most cohesive performance yet by the team, especially in the first half.
Elise Kellond-Knight screened well, Tameka Butt and Katrina Gorry worked in tandem effectively (beyond their two goals), Michelle Heyman was strong as the target striker but also worked well with Lisa De Vanna to draw in the Chinese defence.
Defensively Lydia Williams was a usual brilliant self and the Kim Carroll and Clare Polkinghorne centre back pairing generally worked while Steph Catley game by game cements her place at left back.
2. Rome wasn't built in a day
That's not to say that there isn't still plenty to work on. There is.
In the second half the back line sat too deep in the second half inviting the Chinese pressure upon them. Their deep line meant the midfield and attack also lay deeper. The end result was any prospective counter attacks using the pace of De Vanna, Heyman and Sam Kerr (and later Hayley Raso and Chloe Logarzo) were ineffective.
The ball was also given the ball away too cheaply and in dangerous positions, particularly in that second half. Good goalkeeping from Lydia Williams and the lack of creativity by the Chinese in the final third helped to keep the clean sheet but those mistakes will, and have been, punished by better sides.
The final observation is with regards to the attack. Our best Australian sides of late have seen the attack initiated by the defenders; be it Caitlin Foord, Servet Uzunlar or Kellond-Knight (back in her days at left full back). Catley performed this function well but she can not do this alone.
3. Katrina Gorry
Two years ago the Young Matildas failed to qualify for the FIFA U20 World Cup and one of the laments of then coach Jeff Hopkins was that Katrina Gorry had been unavailable due to injury.
We can now see why he was so keen to have the midfielder in his team. Not only is Gorry excellent with the ball at her feet and good with distribution, the Brisbane Roar dynamo has now added goals to her repertoire. So good has she been this year that she has dislodged previously established midfielders from the starting XI.
4. More young players coming through
As it was Brianna Davey, Ashley Brown and Catley last year, Chloe Logarzo and Hayley Raso stepped onto the international stage and, nerves aside, did not look out of place. The injection of Raso and Logarzo later in the match gave a freshness to the Australian attack resulting in several chances late.
Despite the trials and tribulations of the Young Matildas and qualifying campaigns, the last couple of years are proof positive that the U20s is doing its job; grooming players for the senior team.
5. What happened to China?
You wouldn't know it but back in the day the Chinese women used to be among the best in the world. Silver medallists at the Atlanta Olympic games and were just a penalty shootout away from winning the 1999 Women's World Cup but alas Brianna Scurry and Brandy Chastain happened.
They also had joint FIFA Female Player of the Century Sun Wen.
However in the last decade it has been a swift and brutal fall for the team due to insufficient investment, lack of attention, inadequate development pathways all of which has been compounded by 11 coaches in 10 years. From hosting the first ever World Cup to failing to qualify for the last World Cup. It has been a sharp decline.
A cautionary tale for all.
Westfield Matildas v China PR
Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta
Wednesday 27 November 2013
Kick-off: 7.00pm AEDT
Adult - $20
Concession - $12
Junior - $12
Family - $56
Family: 2 Adults + 2 Juniors or 1 Adult + 3 Juniors
Concession: Person holding a current Aged, Seniors, War, TPI or Invalid Card. NO STUDENTS. Patrons must show ID upon request.
Junior: 3-16 years (inclusive). 2 years & under free on knee.