Japan Defeats the Matildas in Kobe

The Matildas have been defeated 0-3 by the Japanese Women’s National Football team at the Home’s Stadium in Kobe tonight.

The Matildas have been defeated 0-3 by the Japanese Women-s National Football team at the Home-s Stadium in Kobe tonight.

With a revamped defensive line following the recent retirement of Di Alagich, Caitlin Munoz showed her versatility by starting the match at left back with Clare Polkinghorne and Kim Carroll in the middle and Brooke Spence taking the right back position. Lisa De Vanna and Kathryn Gill also joined the starting line-up after joining the squad from their Swedish Club AIK Stockholm, whilst Heather Garriock wore the Captain-s armband.

The Japanese women had the better of the opening exchanges, holding much possession in the Australian defensive half. The Matildas looked the most dangerous when Heather Garriock combined with Lisa De Vanna who used her speed and skill well to unsettle the Japanese defence. Japan had their first goal scoring opportunity in the 20th minute when Shinobu Ono laid off a pass to Yuki Nagasato who shot to the far post, but Matildas goal keeper Lydia Williams was able to parry the shot wide and deny the host team the opening goal.

Ten minutes later Japan had another opportunity when Aya Miyama hit a stinging shot from outside the penalty box in the middle of the field. Williams was again up to the challenge and tipped the ball over the bar for a corner.

Williams was called into action again in the 42nd minute when Kozue Ando broke through the defence and went one-on-one with the Australian goal keeper. Williams came off her line well, closed Ando-s angle down and was able to block the shot.

Unfortunately, Williams was unable to produce a save one minute later when Aya Miyama floated in cross from the right to find an unmarked Homare Sawa inside the six yard box. Sawa headed post Williams to give the Japanese a one goal lead going into the half-time break.

Matildas coach Tom Sermanni changed his goal keepers at half time, with Williams replaced by Melissa Barbieri.

From the restart of the second half, Matildas captain Heather Garriock had a chance to equalise when she found some space on the left and was able to dribble into the penalty box and shoot. Her goal bound shot pushed wide by Japanese goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto.

Japan doubled their lead in the 47th minute when Yuki Nagasato beat the offside trap to take the ball to the by-line and then turned Brooke Spence before shooting inside the near post giving Barbieri little chance of saving.

Japan continued to apply the pressure and could have extended their lead on a number of occasions, but the Matildas defence was up to the task and Barbieri made a number of keys saves to keep her team in the match.

With five minutes to go, Caitlin Munoz fouled substitute Karina Maruyama in the box and conceded a penalty in the process. Maruyama converted the resulting spot kick sending Barbieri the wrong way and sealing a 3-0 victory for her team.

After the match Matildas coach Tom Sermanni was not surprised about the final result but did have some concerns regarding his teams performance.

“Japan are at the top of their game heading into the Olympics and we are currently going through a rebuilding phase," he said.

“Although the result was not in our favour, I was more disappointed with the way we conceded our goals. But that is something that can be worked on", concluded Sermanni.

The Matildas will now head home and turn their focus to the upcoming ASEAN Football Federation Women-s Championships which will be played in Vietnam in October this year.

Match Details

Japan 3 (Homare Sawa 43-, Yuki Nagasato 47-, Karina Maruyama 86- (pen)) Matildas 0

Thursday 24 July 2008 Home-s Stadium, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan

Matildas line-up: 18.Lydia Williams (gk) (1.Melissa Barbieri (gk) 46-), 2.Brooke Spence, 4. Clare Polkinghorne, 7.Heather Garriock (C), 8. Caitlin Munoz, 11.Lisa De Vanna (10.Leena Khamis 78-), 12.Kathryn Gill (15.Kyah Simon 78-), 13.Amy Chapman (10.Joanne Burgess 67-), 16.Lauren Colthorpe, 17.Danielle Small (14.Servet Uzunlar 67-), 19.Kim Carroll Substitutes Not Used: 3.Ellen Beaumont, 5.Renee Rollason,.

Yellow Cards: Munoz (55-), Clare Polkinghorne (85-)

Referee: Sook Hee Kim ((Korea Republic) Assistant Referees: Hisae Yoshizawa (Japan) & Saori Takahashi (Japan) Fourth Official: Nami Sato (Japan)

Crowd: 9,195