Thursday, September 20, 2007
Mighty Matildas - another brief update
Congratulations to Tom Sermanni and the Matildas for making it through to the knockout stage of the Women's World Cup, at the fourth attempt.
In truth, they were somewhat lucky to get through after a decidedly lacklustre performance in the second half against Canada. But, to give credit where it's due, it was some very calm and clever work by Lisa de Vanna on the edge of the area that allowed the veteran captain Cheryl Salisbury to scuff home an equalizer in the second minute of injury time.
Stuttgart, 22 June 2006, all over again.
The Matildas will have their work cut out against Brazil, who have scored an avalanche of goals in the group stage. But merely reaching the quarter-finals is a fine achievement...and perhaps the first indication that the Asian qualifying route can serve as a benign toughening process for the major tournaments.
That was a scrappy game against Canada - not nearly as impressive as the effort against Norway. But it was a tough beginning. I think both teams were thrown by the last-minute 24hr postponement, and then losing Thea Slatyer minutes before the game left the Matildas' defence wondering. Then within minutes Walsh copping that boot to the face. They looked visibly shaken.
And what the girls showed in trumps was spirit. That was a come back built on a psychological comeback that came from somewhere deep.
But yeah, the game was scrappy. In the second half the long balls back to Canada's defenders and goalie were so consistent that I thought this must be the plan. It might make sense as a plan, just to let the Canadians do the running and absorb them for a bit, but it could only last about 5 minutes as the Canadians got used to the idea and looked increasingly strong each time they had a crack. The second Canadian goal seemed to emerge directly from this process.
Anyway, I'm so happy for them it's ridiculous.
Watched the China vs NZ game afterwards. China look beatable, but the NZ team truly are lacking in every area except one. The NZ goalie is a genius, and if that game was anything to go by the NZ team have a lot to owe her for getting as far as they did and losing as respectably. If women's soccer had a thriving international transfer market I'd be watching her closely.
Both matches started with an unexpectedly reshuffled line-up at the back (ie Slatyer- Kalac) and a shock early goal and then eventually saw Australia twice comeback to equalise for incredible 2-2 result (with star veteran grabbing the heartstopping late goal).
Interesting to note Matilda's pre game comments that they were drawing inspiration from Socceroos heroics in 2006.
So on to Brazil - hopefully no 93rd minute penalty to knock us out!
Honestly i reckon Lisa De vianna could teach our A-league boys a thing or two..
thought they playesd some really good stuff and controlled most of the game...a few structural things to work on (i think they defend far too deep, perhaps it's a lack of pace at the back) and i thought they were a little too negativce when they got back to 1-1 (a lack of expereince), but all things considered, they throughly deserved to make it through the group, so it was great to see some justice.
well done sermanni, well done girls...marta and daniela wont be an easy game, but i reckon they've already achieved so much for the womens game and the stars for me have been the two speedsters up front, walsh and de vanna.
If they play as they did previously they have a chance against Brazil.