Mary’s Wonder Women: Matildas shine at the Asian Cup

Mary Konstantopoulos Columnist

By Mary Konstantopoulos, Mary Konstantopoulos is a Roar Expert

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    There’s plenty on the line for the Matildas at this year’s Asian Cup, which started on April 2 and will conclude on April 22.

    Eight nations are competing – Jordan, Japan, Australia, China, Korea Republic, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines – with the top five earning automatic entry into the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France.

    Heading into this tournament, there was plenty of expectation surrounding the Matildas, and rightly so. 2017 was a breakout year for this team, not just on the field, but also with the Australian public.

    In 2017, they won the Tournament of Nations, beating the USA for the first time ever in the process. Sam Kerr was the football player everyone recognised. She was named Young Australian of the Year and her trademark backflips graced the front covers of newspapers across the country.

    Sam Kerr Matildas Australian Football 2017

    Photo by Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images

    They also played in Australia throughout November in front of soldout crowds, with home attendance records being broken over and over – first in Penrith, with 15,089 people in attendance, and then 16,829 watched a victory over Brazil in Newcastle just days later.

    The year ended with the Australia reaching fourth on the FIFA World Rankings – their highest position ever – trailing just behind the USA, Germany and England.

    In a year where football in Australia needed a beacon of light, the Matildas came and lit up the country.

    Going into the Asian Cup ranked sixth in the world, they were favourites to emerge as champions. However, their campaign started frustratingly, with a 0-0 draw against the Korea Republic – the thrid time the two nations have played out such a scoreline.

    The had plenty of attacking opportunities – Kerr had four shots and also created two goal-scoring opportunities for her teammates, while Kyah took a late shot at goal – but failed to convert any.

    During the mtach, Korea looked content with a draw, with their sole shot at goal occurring in the 93rd minute, courtesy of Lee Young-Ju (Korea Republic took a similar approach against Japan, which also ended in a 0-0 draw).

    Any concerns following that result were dispensed with, following an 8-0 demolition of Vietnam earlier this week, as seven changes to the team made an emphatic difference. It was great to see Ellie Carpenter and Alex Chidiac start – they are two of my favourite Australian players and with Carpenter being 19 and Chidiac just 17, we should be watching them in green and gold for years to come.

    There were a couple of standout moments in this game. Chloe Logarzo scored her fourth goal for the year and now sits equal with Kerr for the most goals this season. Speaking of Kerr, she also scored two goals, which means that she has found the back of the net 15 times in her last 13 internationals – managing at least two goals in five of those games.

    This was the team’s biggest win since they beat Vietnam 9-0 in March 2018. As an aside, this fixture saw them score more goals than in their last five internationals combined!

    Matildas Football 2017 tall

    AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

    As a result, Australia is now ahead of Japan on goal difference, setting up a key clash between the two teams tonight, at 11.45pm (AEST).

    Getting one point out of this game ensures Australia has a spot in the knockout stages, confirming them qualification for next year’s Wold Cup.

    Quite the rivalry is developing between these two teams. While the Matildas beat Japan at the Tournament of Nations and in Japan for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games qualifiers, in the five years prior to that, Japan were dominant.

    I’ll definitely be staying up to watch this one.

    Commonwealth Games round up
    Some of my favourites performances at the Commonwealth Games this week include Kathryn Mitchell winning gold in the javelin, after waiting over a decade to a win a major senior international medal, Bronte Campbell beating sister Cate in the women’s 100-metre freestyle to take home the gold medal, and Isis Hold winning the women’s T35 100-metre sprint in a time of 13.58. Holt adds this gold to her four world titles, two Paralympic silver medals, and one bronze – all at age 16.

    But my highlight was Claire Tallent demonstrating extraordinary sportsmanship following her disqualification in the 20-kilometre race walk.

    In a flashback to Jane Saville at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, with just two kilometres left in the race, Tallent was disqualified, receiving her third and final red card from the judges for lifting both feet off the ground.

    Visibly distressed, Tallent collapsed to the ground.

    Despite her disappointment though, Tallent was still waiting at the finish line to congratulate friend and teammate Jemima Montag as she crossed the line to win gold.

    These are exactly the sorts of stories of Australian sportsmanship that I want to read about.

    Mary Konstantopoulos
    Mary Konstantopoulos

    Mary Konstantopoulos is a lawyer, sports advocate and proud owner and founder of the Ladies Who empire, including Ladies who League, Ladies who Legspin, Ladies who Lineout and Ladies who Leap. You can find her podcast on iTunes and find her on Twitter @mary__kaye and @ladieswholeague.

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    The Crowd Says (47)

    • April 13th 2018 @ 9:57am
      Midfielder said | April 13th 2018 @ 9:57am | ! Report

      This current Matildas side is something very very very very special and we may never see this level of skill for years after this side retires.

      I honestly don’t think people appreciate how rare it is to have such a special team …..

      Not wanting to apply any one up-menship but this is the world game, they are beating and winning against very strong teams ….

      • Columnist

        April 13th 2018 @ 10:06am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | April 13th 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

        Good shout midfielder – but I really do think that Australia is getting behind this team.

        I’m not much of a football fan to be honest, so I am probably someone who is not appreciating just how talented they are compared to other teams we have had in the past. But I will watch them and support them and really hope that we can beat Japan tonight!

        • April 13th 2018 @ 10:37am
          Onside said | April 13th 2018 @ 10:37am | ! Report

          Football Mary, is an ideal sport for girls and women, where alternatively
          when choosing a sport, the rugby codes, and AFL, can be quite brutal.

          Rugby codes are just fine for those that enjoy full body contact sports,
          but less attractive to those girls and women wanting to play a football
          code team sport, where crunching tackles are not of the essence.

          • Columnist

            April 13th 2018 @ 10:43am
            Mary Konstantopoulos said | April 13th 2018 @ 10:43am | ! Report

            Onside, not debating what is better at all. Just was always brought up on rugby league and the Parramatta Eels have my heart. The explanation is as simple as that.

            • April 13th 2018 @ 11:04am
              Onside said | April 13th 2018 @ 11:04am | ! Report

              I get it Mary,didn’t think that at all, its all sport. I reckon all kids, girls and boys,
              that eventually choose to play League, Union or AFL, become better players
              if as young tackers they have had a grounding in soccer, because they must
              learn to kick with both feet.

              As an adult player, at any level, park or professional, being able to instinctively
              kick with both feet is an asset.

              • Columnist

                April 13th 2018 @ 4:23pm
                Mary Konstantopoulos said | April 13th 2018 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

                We are totally on the same page, onside! Glad I got to do some football content for you this week. There is so much great stuff happening in women’s sport I struggle to keep up sometimes!

      • April 13th 2018 @ 10:20am
        chris said | April 13th 2018 @ 10:20am | ! Report

        MF there are some very good players coming through the junior ranks in women’s football. Whilst I don’t currently see a Catherine Canuli or a Lisa De Vanna in the mix, the overall base is growing rapidly and the overall standard is way higher than 10 years ago.

      • April 13th 2018 @ 11:54am
        Casper said | April 13th 2018 @ 11:54am | ! Report

        Midfielder, is the team really that special? Seem grossly overrated to me. Won a few meaningless friendlies against supposed super power nations. No players in the world team of the year, despite delusional Aussies calling Kerr the best in the world.

        If you can beat teams 8-0 or 9-0 then how fair dinkum is this current tournament they are playing in? Time for people to be realistic about the Matilda’s.

        • Columnist

          April 13th 2018 @ 11:57am
          Mike Tuckerman said | April 13th 2018 @ 11:57am | ! Report

          Can only play what’s in front of you. They’ll be pretty special if they win the whole thing.

          • April 13th 2018 @ 4:58pm
            chris said | April 13th 2018 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

            Mike he’s never watched a game in his life so I think his opinion is about as valid as my opinion on Essenden being this years favourites in the AFL.

        • April 13th 2018 @ 12:07pm
          Nemesis said | April 13th 2018 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

          How funny is this. A poser who follows a sport that can beat no one at international level, but still calls its players world class athletes, is trying to diminish the quality of world class Aussie footballers.

          He’s either exposing his misogyny, or ignorance.
          Most likely both.

          Casper is the same disgusting AFL poser, who made fun of Johnny Warren being diagnosed with cancer.

        • April 13th 2018 @ 12:32pm
          Midfielder said | April 13th 2018 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

          An AFL wanta be ghosts in and attempts to derail a conversation and be anti Australian in putting down an Australian side…

          Like beyond wow I normally don’t read AFL posters comments …. but whats in your heart when you can criticise such a successful Australian side ….. what motives can there possibly be …

          Who can explain such anti Australian behaviour ….. words fail me….

          • April 13th 2018 @ 12:39pm
            Nemesis said | April 13th 2018 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

            We’re dealing with some pretty pathetic social misfits. These are not normal people. They are bottom-feeders of social media whose only intent is to disrupt people who want to enjoy discussing a topic.

          • April 13th 2018 @ 1:39pm
            Casper said | April 13th 2018 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

            Mid – I’m not being anti Australian, just saying that people need to get a grip when assessing the Matilda’s performances. Of course they can only beat what’s in front of them, which obviously isn’t much.

            Remember, the Matilda’s lost 7-0 to an u15 boys team last year. a lot of people feel that that result gives a real indication of their level of talent.

            • Columnist

              April 13th 2018 @ 1:43pm
              Mary Konstantopoulos said | April 13th 2018 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

              I think it’s interesting that you say the Matilda’s haven’t proven anything, despite beating teams like the US and Japan last year, winning the Tournament of Nations and sitting fourth on the FIFA Rankings at the end of last year…. but then in the same breath use one game (played in May 2016) to suggest that they aren’t that good.

              • April 13th 2018 @ 2:01pm
                Casper said | April 13th 2018 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

                Fair point Mary. They did well in that “tournament” in the states, and former AFL player Sam Kerr looks like a natural sportsperson. To me most of these Asian countries look incredibly average, so winning the Asian Cup won’t be that great of an achievement.

              • Columnist

                April 13th 2018 @ 2:03pm
                Mike Tuckerman said | April 13th 2018 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

                Let’s see how they go in the AFL’s Asian Cup then, shall we Casper? Oh…

              • April 13th 2018 @ 2:15pm
                Casper said | April 13th 2018 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

                Well Mike, if Vietnam can find 11 women that can’t player soccer, I’m sure they can find 16 women who can’t play footy.

              • April 13th 2018 @ 2:18pm
                Nemesis said | April 13th 2018 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

                Australia can’t find women who play Aussie Rules to any level of competence so they go looking for javelin throwers & basketball players.

                So amusing to see the same people who gush about the quality of suburban class AFLW are trying to diminish women who represent their nation in sport.

              • April 13th 2018 @ 2:43pm
                Casper said | April 13th 2018 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

                Don’t remember ever gushing about the AFLW but then again, being truthful is not your strong suit.

                There are 240 women on AFLW lists. Sure some of them are going to be fairly average. Maybe all the Matilda’s are really talented. That’s not really the point though. The point is that their opponents aren’t.

              • April 13th 2018 @ 2:57pm
                punter said | April 13th 2018 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

                Hey casper when was the last time Essendon won the Asian cup, maybe only under that Hird bloke.

              • April 13th 2018 @ 3:09pm
                Nemesis said | April 13th 2018 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

                @Casper

                Some of the AFL players might be really talented. That’s not really the point though. The point is that their opponents aren’t.

                Some of the AFLW players might be really talented. That’s not really the point though. The point is that their opponents aren’t.

              • April 13th 2018 @ 3:45pm
                Casper said | April 13th 2018 @ 3:45pm | ! Report

                Nemesis- I agree with that. Nothing wrong with it either. I’m not pumping AFLW up to be anything it’s not. I just don’t want people to pump up international women’s soccer to be something it’s not.

              • Roar Guru

                April 14th 2018 @ 10:28am
                Ben of Phnom Penh said | April 14th 2018 @ 10:28am | ! Report

                It is a strange debate you are engaging in, Casper. Are you saying that women’s sport isn’t worth watching or getting excited about? That is a debate that was raging back in the late 80’s and even by the 90’s had lost momentum. Or are you implying that South Korea and Japan are not strong footballing nations? Vietnam’s women’s football has a long way to go to catch up, granted, but so does the men’s team. The Japanese however have won the World Cup and were runner’s-up the following tournament, more than we’ve ever achieved.

            • April 13th 2018 @ 3:02pm
              Midfielder said | April 13th 2018 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

              Cas

              You are being un-Australian you are letting your sporting code preference appreciate what an unbelievably … your bias even attacks other sides for being weak…

              What 50 + white male is my guess.

              I truly hope one day you can free your mind of bias and fear and enjoy your game without feeling the need to attack other codes and other nations.

              You in a way inferred Vietnam is weak… just sharing a couple of vids from this year from Vietnam…

              • April 13th 2018 @ 3:20pm
                Casper said | April 13th 2018 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

                Mid – I’m not inferring that Vietnam are weak, I’m telling you straight up that they are. To lose consecutive matches 9 nil and 8 nil to Australia proves that.

              • April 13th 2018 @ 5:02pm
                chris said | April 13th 2018 @ 5:02pm | ! Report

                How would you know? You don’t follow football and to compare a boys u15 team beating what was an Australian team that had many players not far off in age than the boys, shows your ignorance.

            • April 13th 2018 @ 3:53pm
              BrainsTrust said | April 13th 2018 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

              The the male 15’s would beat a seniors women team in nearly everything. do you know even the slightest thing about sport.

              • April 13th 2018 @ 7:25pm
                Casper said | April 13th 2018 @ 7:25pm | ! Report

                Give me some examples. 7-0 is not just being beat, it’s an absolute thrashing.

                Plus it’s not the Australian u15 team, it’s just some team from Newcastle.

              • April 14th 2018 @ 8:25am
                BrainsTrust said | April 14th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

                Examples of what?
                The Matildas actually do play against full age men regularly as they sneak them in womens qualifying but they are not high standard and they thrash them. Same as the junior male teams you have cases where 24 year olds are playing in u16’s qualifying in Asia with moustaches, and in the u17 world cup the Nigerians are suspected to have fielded many.

        • April 13th 2018 @ 12:45pm
          BrainsTrust said | April 13th 2018 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

          Matildas without Kerr are not special, though they would be a top 10 team
          Kerr however is very special..
          Its not whether she is the best now, its whether she is the now best of all time.
          Kerr because she was a late starter however would have been just a top 50 player before mid last year she just absolutely launched the scoring streak of all time including mens football in high level matches.
          Maybe there is a delay in recognition since Kerr just suddenly rocketed to new heights mid year.
          If you knew anything about womens football you would know that Asia has 5 of the top teams and is the second most competitive region to Europe. However North Korea one of those teams are banned. The other regional competitions usually its one team dominates the other and thrashes them.
          So the so called friendly tournament you were dishing was 4 of the best teams in the world, two of which USA usually the no 1 , and Brazil don’t face the same level of competition that Australia have in the AFC so which are they going to take more seriously.

          • April 13th 2018 @ 2:14pm
            Nemesis said | April 13th 2018 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

            “If you knew anything about womens football you would know that Asia has 5 of the top teams and is the second most competitive region to Europe. ”

            What do you mean 5 of the top teams? 5 out of what? Out of 5? Out of 10? Out of 100?

            Current FIFA rankings for Women are:

            1) USA
            2) England
            3) Germany
            4) Canada
            5) France

            Top 4 nations at the last FIFA Women’s World Cup were:

            1) USA
            2) Japan
            3) England
            4) Germany

            • April 13th 2018 @ 3:50pm
              BrainsTrust said | April 13th 2018 @ 3:50pm | ! Report

              If you had a brain since I placed Asia second to Europe then you could safely assume Europe has at least minimum 5 top teams. Out of about the top 20 I would say and North Korea banned are about the same as CHina. North America has only two and South America one,

    • Roar Guru

      April 14th 2018 @ 10:21am
      Ben of Phnom Penh said | April 14th 2018 @ 10:21am | ! Report

      Another good result from the Matildas with a 1-1 draw against Japan which puts us into the semi against Thailand and into the World Cup. Whilst the tournament pools are very uneven, I am glad we’ve been in the tougher side of the draw as it is provided some hard fought, entertaining games that will strengthen the side.

      Japan go through with us on goals scored (points & GD being the same as South Korea) whilst the Koreans will play-off with the Philippines for the final World Cup spot; a game they should breeze through.

      China v Japan in the 1st semi – no love lost there!

    • April 14th 2018 @ 1:09pm
      Nemesis said | April 14th 2018 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

      Great result for the AUS Women’s National Team this morning. Terrible performance, albeit against a quality opponent.

      I’m not sure what’s going on, but the team is showing none of the terrific interplay that I saw in the past 12 months. No doubting they work incredibly hard – like all Aussie national football teams, but they’re now incredibly sloppy, which is something I expect from our men’s team, but it was missing from the women’s game.

      Anyway, it’s a tournament & they finished on top of a tough group.

      Those last few minutes after AUS equalised was surreal.

      • April 14th 2018 @ 6:18pm
        chris said | April 14th 2018 @ 6:18pm | ! Report

        The past few performances have been disappointing I agree. They are nothing like the crisp incisive play they showed when they went on that amazing run of undefeated games. Maybe a little tiredness has dulled that edge. Still getting the results so….

      • April 14th 2018 @ 8:35pm
        Pauly said | April 14th 2018 @ 8:35pm | ! Report

        Really dominated large swathes of the game. Privately, Stajcic and the team would be disappointed they couldn’t pull off the win. Will see how they go if they make the final and face Japan again.

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