Matildas in play off for top three in Asia

Australia will be aiming for a top three finish at the 2008 AFC Women's Asian Cup after a 3-0 semi final defeat against Asia's top ranked nation DPR (North) Korea tonight in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Australia will be aiming for a top three finish at the 2008 AFC Women's Asian Cup after a 3-0 semi final defeat against Asia's top ranked nation DPR (North) Korea tonight in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Australia will now compete for third place on Sunday (7pm AET) where they will meet their Group B nemesis Japan who lost the second semi final 3-1 against China after holding a 1-0 goal lead.

"I am quite pleased with reaching the semi finals which was our initial goal, and also pleased with what we achieved given the amount of upheaval within the team compared to last year's World Cup squad," said Matildas coach Tom Sermanni.

"We saw with our opponents today the level that we aspire to reach as we continue through our rebuilding phase towards the next World Cup."

Reigning Women's Asian Player of the Year Ri Kum Suk scored a stunning 60-minute hat trick as the Koreans inflicted further pain after eliminating the Matildas last year at the final stage of qualifying for the Beijing Olympics.

Temperatures hovered around 35 degrees for the afternoon kick-off with Australia caught cold by a goal after just two minutes from Kum Suk who then found the net again four minutes prior to the half time break.

"It was disappointing that we were outplayed in this match but DPR Korea were better than us in every aspect of the game and were thoroughly deserved winners," said Sermanni.

Captain Kum Suk turned in a stunning vituoso performance and was ably supported by all team mates who were dynamic from the opening whistle despite the oppressive conditions.

After Kum Suk's long range opener from distance flew past Australian goalkeeper Lydia Williams, the Koreans continued to press but the Australian defence soon settled and the two-time Asian champions were generally happy to try their luck from distance.

Caitlin Munoz fed the ball to strike partner Lisa De Vanna but her hastilty taken shot failed to stretch the goalkeeper in what was Australia's first opening after 23 minutes.

Australia won their first corner soon after and Heather Garriock's perfect deep delivery beat the goalkeeper but Clare Polkinghorne had to stretch too much under pressure and the ball went behind for a goal kick.

Another dangerous De Vanna run followed minutes later as Australia enjoyed their best period of the match in attack.

Korea were always lively and well organised rarely erring in defence or attack but Un Suk Ri fired over from near the penalty spot after good work on the right flank.

Australia suffered a near mortal blow a few minutes prior to the interval after a promising break broke down on the edge of the Korean penalty area. The Koreans immediately shifted quickly to offensive mode resulting in Suk Ri feeding a perfect ball across face of goal for Kum Suk to finish from close range.

There was still time though in the final seconds of the half for Korea to nearly extend their lead with Jong Ran On's mazy run into the box causing chaos.

The Matildas were looking for an early goal after the break and nearly got it when De Vanna was narrowly beaten to a loose ball by the goalkeeper who clashed heavily resulting in treatment being required for both players.

DPR Korea's clinching goal came just as Australia were looking likely to shore up defensively and came with the help of a pass that deflected perfectly for Kum Suk who finished with typical coolness.

The tempo of the match remained fairly consistent despite the heat though the tempartaure cooled slightly as the match wore on.

The Matildas battled hard throughout against the world number six and had the final chance of the match when the two substitutes combined with Jenna Tristram feeding Tameka Butt whose high shot forced the goalkeeper to backpeddle to make a high catch.

The Matildas were runners-up two years ago losing the final against China on penalties in Adelaide.

Match Details:-

Australia 0

DPR Korea (Ri Kum Suk, 2', 41', 60')

Australian line-up: Lydia Williams (gk); Di Alagich, Kate McShea, Clare Polkinghorne, Ellyse Perry, Lauren Colthorpe, Amber Neilson (Collette McCallum 59'), Heather Garriock, Amy Chapman (Tameka Butt 74'), Lisa De Vanna, Caitlin Munoz (Jenna Tristram 60')

Cautions: De Vanna 51',

Referee: Pannipar Kamnueng (Thailand)