The Young Matildas are on the rise (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

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Tonight, the Young Matildas will play Thailand in the final of the 2018 AFF Women’s Championships in Indonesia.

It’s set to be a thrilling finale to a competitive tournament, particularly considering that Thailand are the only team that have managed to beat the Australia so far.

Let’s track their road to the final.

The Young Matildas first game was against Malaysia, who they defeated 7-0. They dominated this game from the outset, scoring their first goal within 20 seconds when Alexandra Chidiac won the ball back from kick-off and marched towards the goal.

By the time the game was ten minutes old, Australia was leading 3-0 thanks to goals from Mary Fowler and Emily Condon.

At the game’s conclusion, Fowler had a double and Chidiac had a hat trick. The final goal of the game was scored the last couple of minutes of normal time and was a team effort, with Amy Sayer hitting the back of the net.

Their next game was against Timor-Leste and it was another convincing win.

Similar to the game against Malaysia, Australia dominated this game from the outset. The first goal came in the 11 minutes through Cortnee Vine, who made it a double in the 18th minute.

By halftime, Australia were leading 3-0. Sayer bagged a double in this game and the Young Matildas managed to score in the 72nd, 29th and 86th minutes, pushing the score out to 9-0 – a score line which reflects how dominant the squad was during this game.

Their next win was a 12-0 demolition of Cambodia, giving the Aussies a perfect start to the tournament. Fowler again shone, ending the game with five goals.

The final match of the pool stage was against Thailand. Prior to this game, Australia sat on top of the pool with nine points and netting 28 goals in their first three matches.

But this game saw the girls in gold defeated 4-2.

What I didn’t appreciate was the Young Matildas playing Thailand’s senior team. In fact, that is effectively the case for the whole tournament, where it is only Japan and Australia that sent their junior teams.

This puts the tournament into perspective for the Young Matildas, particularly when you consider that the last time the Matildas played Thailand, their game was drawn 2-2 at the end of regular time, Australia eventually winning 3-1 on penalties.

Kanjana Sungngoen shone for Thailand against the Aussie youth side, scoring a hat-trick in four and a half minutes of the game – the remaining goals were scored after halftime.

Still, Australia progressed to the semi-finals, where they faced Vietnam.

Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung scored first, but at the break, Australia led 2-1, thanks to goals to Chidiac and Courtney Nevin. This scoreline potentially flattered Vietnam thanks to some exceptional goalkeeping by Đặng Thị Kiều Trinh.

The Vietnamese continued to fight back but Australia maintained their lead also through some exceptional goalkeeping by Jada Whyman.

When Chidiac scored her second goal, in the 74th minute, Australia were winners beyond doubt, eventually getting up 4-2.

Many of these women will be representing Australia at a senior level very soon, with a very bright future for Australia.

There have been some key retirements this week, and the timing is worth, noting given that next weekend Lisa Alexander will announce her Australian Diamonds squad for next year’s World Cup.

The squad will go to England without Laura Geitz, who announced her retirement on Monday night, while Madi Robinson followed less than a day later.

Madi Robinson in action for the Collingwood Magpies

(Credit: Magpies Netball)

Liz Ellis penned an article this week which questioned the reasons behind the retirements. Did they hang up their bibs on their own terms or were they told they would not be picked for the World Cup?

Regardless, there is potentially some panic in the upper echelons of Australian netball’s hierarchy, given the Diamonds’ second-place finish at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year.

Additionally, all Super Netball players are currently off contract, which could lead to disruptions as the competition edges closer to its crescendo in August.

For now, I eagerly await Lisa Alexander’s squad announcement, with the guarantee of some new faces.

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 (13)

  • July 13th 2018 @ 8:17am
    hogdriller said | July 13th 2018 @ 8:17am | ! Report

    Great read on the Young Matildas Mary, also great to see young Alex Chidian bag some goals as imo she is one of the most tireless workers in the girls game today. Care less that there playing against senior players of other countries, its all valuable experience for them, good luck to them in the final later.

  • July 13th 2018 @ 8:26am
    Nemesis said | July 13th 2018 @ 8:26am | ! Report

    Mary, Thanks for this article on the the AFF Women’s Championship. With the Men’s World Cup grabbing all the attention, the achievement of these Aussie women in this tournament has largely gone unnoticed.

    Whilst some of the AFF nations are not as far advanced as the bigger nations across Asia – in both men’s & women’s football – as you rightly mentioned, this tournament is an open age tournament, but AUS has chosen to send its u20 squad to play, which makes the results much more impressive.

    One point I didn’t understand from your article. You said: “… it is only Japan and Australia that sent their junior teams.”

    Japan is not part of the AFF (they’re part of EAFF) & I’m definite Japan is not playing this tournament.

    • Columnist

      July 13th 2018 @ 9:29am
      Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 13th 2018 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      Hi Nemesis – my pleasure. You didn’t misunderstand, because that’s my bad! Apologies for that. I’m still learning about football so that was an error on my part. Thanks for picking that up, I appreciate it.

    • Roar Guru

      July 13th 2018 @ 12:34pm
      Ben of Phnom Penh said | July 13th 2018 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

      Not in this tournament, however we did lose to the Japan U23 a few years ago in the same tournament. I think Jordan & Taiwan also played not so long ago. Until recently additional sides were invited to make up the numbers however if Cambodia & Timor Leste are now fielding sides that is not required (though I noticed Laos & Brunei didn’t field sides this time).

      • July 13th 2018 @ 4:50pm
        Nemesis said | July 13th 2018 @ 4:50pm | ! Report

        I’m intrigued to know when Japan was in the ASEAN Football Federation?

        And, I can’t find any reference to u23 Women’s Tournament being organised by AFF.

        According to the AFF Website, the AFF women’s tournaments are: Senior & u16.

        There appears to have been one u19 Women’s Championship in 2014 – neither AUS, nor JPN played.

        • Roar Guru

          July 14th 2018 @ 8:19am
          Ben of Phnom Penh said | July 14th 2018 @ 8:19am | ! Report

          Japan (EAFF), Jordan (WAFF), Taiwan (EAFF) and Maldives (SAFF) were invited to the tournament over the years to make up the numbers as there were insufficient AFF women’s teams at the time. Japan were invited to the 2013 tournament and they sent their u23’s where they met our u20’s and defeated them in a penalty shoot-out.

          It isn’t that intruiging as invites to tournaments are a fairly common occurance (such as the Socceroos playing in the EAFF Championship), though the absence of Laos is interesting as they have been a regular participant and usually fare reasonably well in the tournament (I don’t think Brunei have ever fielded a side).

  • July 13th 2018 @ 9:20am
    Post_hoc said | July 13th 2018 @ 9:20am | ! Report

    Great to see the young Matildas doing well, good luck in the Final

  • Columnist

    July 13th 2018 @ 9:30am
    Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 13th 2018 @ 9:30am | ! Report

    Update – Another Diamond in Susan Pettit has also announced her retirement.

  • Roar Guru

    July 13th 2018 @ 9:44am
    Wayne said | July 13th 2018 @ 9:44am | ! Report

    Looking at the Young Matilda’s list, I was surprised that I recognised some of the names (Ibini, Crummer, Sayer and Carpenter).

    The W-League is well placed for coming season(s) given the local talent we have in our junior rep team.

  • July 13th 2018 @ 10:26am
    Lionheart said | July 13th 2018 @ 10:26am | ! Report

    Thanks Mary. Nice to be updated on our girls sports. I’m really looking forward to next year’s World Cups – both football and netball. France 2019 may well be a real challenge for our Matildas as the competition too, is improving just like us, especially in Europe. And the netball girls are going to have to work hard to keep England in toe too.
    Hope you’ll be busy writing as we build toward these tournaments next year.

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