A nerve racking start for the Young Matildas| TWG
On Thursday night the next generation of Matildas displayed the "never say die" spirit that has become snonymous with our women's national teams when they came from behind to defeat Vietnam 4 - 3. For Young Matildas coach Jeff Hopkins, it wasn't the calm game he would have hoped for in his first match in charge.
Nonetheless with three points are on the board, the Young Matildas today look to the next challenge of DPR Korea. We caught up with Jeff ahead of this afternoon's second match of the AFC U19 Women's Championships.
Congratulations on the win but you must have felt you got out of jail against Vietnam?
Yeah we did. We made a good start to the game scoring really early just as we had planned but after that we lost our way a little bit.
We were really up against it. To the credit of the girls who were on the park at that time, they did rally and we showed enough character, and scored a few good goals, towards the end to give us some confidence.
The second half performance of Emily Gielnik must have pleased you?
Emily is capable of just doing what she did in that second half, a little burst of skill and energy to get us through. That is exactly what we expect from her. The really pleasing thing from her was how she finished off those three strikes.
To be honest she had been causing them trouble all game but we were really under pressure then to finish them. Just the composure she found under pressure is really pleasing going into a few harder games.
You must also be happy with the impact your half time substitutions had on the match?
Emily Van Egmond, Ash[ley Brown] and Teigen [Allen], they came on when we were behind and they really made an impact exactly as we asked of them. From that aspect of the game we were very happy with that.
Post match you spoke about some of the disappointing aspects of the performance. Is it a bit of good luck to have Vietnam up first to highlight any areas of work?
Yeah, I agree. It’s been a bit of an eye opener for us. I think if we had any illusions how difficult this competition [FIFA U20 World Cup] is going to be to qualify for, I think this has really opened their eyes to that.
We need to make sure that we are on our best for every single game. We can’t relax for any opposition and I think looking back its going to be quite a valuable experience.
It was a game we were expected to win and it looked like it after the first 10 minutes. Maybe we took our off the ball a little bit but this type of result and that type of performance shows if we are not really focused on our game plan, we could come unstuck here.
Jeff you’ve had a chance to have a look at your next opponents DPR Korea, where do you think we can attack them to gain our next three points?
I think they're a team that plays the game very simply. They play quite direct. They are physically quite an imposing side and they don’t make too many mistakes. They will try to play the game in our half. They are a very good side; strong, powerful and good quality all over the field.
From our perspective, we have to ensure we really minimize our mistakes. We need to defend from a really strong defensive base and then we will be looking to maybe do the same to them.
A lot of the stuff we have been doing has been based on stopping counter attacks and I don't think we did that well enough. Vietnam's goals came from two specific ares; from us giving the ball away in central areas and also from counter-attacks.
Most of the teams here will play quite a deep line defence and have players hanging around midfield to pick up any balls that are cleared and counter attack very quickly. I think if we can just retain the ball a little better in key areas of the field and make sure we are switched on when we attack, I think that will keep us in good stead.
The onus will be on us to make sure we are nice and tight defensively, we keep the ball well, we don’t give it away and maybe attack on the counter.
Vietnam has some heavy conditions for the girls. Will there be squad rotation?
That is definitely a vital part of of us qualifying. Everyone is going to at some stage play their part. Some girls will play bigger parts that other but squad rotation is really important. We had a couple of girls struggling with heat exhaustion in the first half.
The conditions out here are pretty oppressive so everyone will be playing a part. So I say in most games you will see a different team starting each game.
It’s what we have stressed to the girls. You will be needed some time so be prepared, be ready to go.
The Young Matildas take on DPR Korea at 8pm AEDST.