matildas_china_eaffThe fitting farewell outgoing Westfield Matildas coach Tom Sermanni deserved and wanted didn’t eventuate this evening, as Australia fell short of EAFF Women’s East Asian Cup qualification by virtue of a 2-1 loss to China PR.

Goals to Wang Li Si and Zhang Rui bookended Katie Gill’s first half strike to see the hosts through to next year’s regional showpiece in the Korea Republic at Australia’s expense.

On the occasion of Sermanni’s final match in charge of the Westfield Matildas after a non-consecutive decade at the helm, sentimentality was shelved by China PR as they put together their most complete performance of the tournament to deny Australia the result they needed.

Though the Westfield Matildas searched valiantly for a second half equaliser, they were in truth denied by a deserving winner in China PR, who largely dictated terms throughout the key moments of the match.

“I’m obviously disappointed we lost, it was a tough game, it’s typical of the kind of games that we play up in Asia, where there’s usually a goal in it, one way or another,” said Westfield Matildas coach Tom Sermanni after the match.

“I feel a bit disappointed for the players that put in a great effort tonight, they really pushed and pushed to the end.

“I think the key thing is consistency, you’ve really got to take a step back at times and particularly in this phase of preparation when you’re talking about national teams.

“If you look at the team we put out tonight, there’s still a lot of teenagers in there, a lot of players who have played very, very few caps and they’re still working out how to play.”

The hosts underlined their quality when posting the match opener inside ten minutes.

Wang Li Si showed great composure on the right tip of the penalty area to unleash a well-weighted shot that had returning Westfield Matildas goalkeeper Brianna Davey well beat.

Gill’s response three minutes later was indicative of the current form of the Perth Glory striker, who showed tremendous poise to finish from close range.

Much credit for Australia’s equalizer was due to wingback Caitlin Foord, however, who after picking up the ball in her own half ran some sixty metres before delivering a pinpoint assist.

Australia started the second half the stronger of the two teams but were caught out by a sucker punch on fifty minutes.

China PR’s midfield standout Zhang Rui was quickest to react in the penalty area when the Westfield Matildas defence failed to clear a loose ball.

Upon taking the lead, the hosts controlled the remainder of the match – for the most part – despite occasional half-chances falling to Australia’s front line.

Ultimately, Sermanni’s charges were unable to break down China PR’s resolute defence and thus, the curtain was closed on the coaching career of one of the greats of Australian women’s football without the positive type of fanfare the Westfield Matildas had hoped for.

“It’s difficult to really describe in words, it’s a little bit surreal,” said Sermanni.

“It’s very sad, a little bit sentimental, it probably won’t hit me until I’ve actually gone because while I’m still here, I’m still in amongst it.

“It’s been more than a job for me, for eight years, players have come into the team, you’ve seen players go on to the next stage of their life and when you’ve been with this team, it’s more than just about football.

“That’s the contact I’ll miss, with this national team you’re 24/7 and I’ll miss that.”

Westfield Matildas 1 (Gill 12’)

China PR 2 (Wang Li Si 9’, Zhang Rui 50’)

Westfield Matildas – 1. Brianna Davey (gk), 4. Clare Polkinghorne (2. Teigen Allen 80’), 5. Laura Alleway, 7. Stephanie Catley, 9. Caitlin Foord, 10. Servet Uzunlar, 11. Lisa de Vanna, 12. Katie Gill, 14. Collette McCallum (c), 16. Emily van Egmond (19. Katrina-Lee Gorry 80’), 20. Samantha Kerr (17. Kyah Simon 70’)

Unused Substitutes – 13. Tameka Butt, 18. Mackenzie Arnold (gk), 23. Alana Kennedy, 24. Emily Gielnik, 29. Brooke Spence, 31. Emma Checker

Yellow Cards – None

Red Cards – None

China PR – 12. Wang Fei (gk), 2. Wang Ling Ling, 4. Li Jia Yue, 6. Zeng Ying, 11. Pu Wei (c), 13. Wang Shan Shan (27. Li Ying 50’), 16. Wang Chen, 18. Han Peng (23. Ren Gui Xin 71’), 21. Wang Li Si, 25. Zhang Rui (14. Wang Dong Ni 90’+1), 26. Wu Hal Yan

Unused Substitutes – 1. Zhang Yue (gk), 7. Bi Yan, 10. Ma Xiao Xu, 19. Zhou Fei Fei, 20. You Jia, 33. Wang Ying Ying

Yellow Cards – Li Ying 84’

Red Cards – None