Tough first day for girls in Vietnam
Day 1 of the AFC U14 Girls Festival of Football introduced the Westfield U14 Girls team to the harsh realities of Asian football, especially the heat and humidity.
Day 1 of the AFC U14 Girls Festival of Football introduced the Westfield U14 Girls team to the harsh realities of Asian football, especially the heat and humidity. The girls also faced tough games against China and Japan in their opening two matches, who are experienced at this level, while it was a first for Australia at this level.
However the girls acquitted themselves well and while the results of matches do not get recorded, they had an even day across the board, with a win, a draw and a loss.
In the unique format, each country has to provide two teams of 11 and they each play alternate matches to ensure that every player is getting the same amount of game time. On Day 1 Team 1 will play two games and Team 2 the one, while this will swap on Day 2.
During the 4th and 5th days the format changes once again, where they play longer games and each team will play a half. Day 3 is skills day for the girls.
Westfield U14 Girls coach Jeff Hopkins has provided some brief descriptions of the Matches.
Team 1 - Australia 1-1 China In hot humid conditions the Australian girls started a few steps behind a strong Chinese start. China dominated the first 10 minutes of play and attacked aggressively in and around the 18 yard box. A determined Australian defence kept China out until the 12th minute. Following the goal the Australian girls began to combine and settle into the game. Playing out from the back drew space in midfield and behind the Chinese defence and Jessie Williams began to be more involved. Sophie Maguire provided good combinations in attack with Williams and both found themselves in 1v1 situations with the keeper but were unable to capitalise. Meg McLaughlin showed speed and strength down the left wing and was unlucky not to score with a long range shot that hit the cross bar. Finally a great through ball again from McLaughlin found Williams in space and although not able to pass the keeper the first time, had the awareness to get to the rebound first and finished firmly on the 27th minute. Australia continued to settle in the game, finding combinations over the field, though at times lost possession playing a more difficult option. More chances were created for the girls to go in front whereas China-s attack rarely bothered Shamiran Khamis in goals.
Australian line-up: Shamiran Khamis, Jordan Evans, Elizabeth Ralston, Chantelle Ryder, Isobel Cootes (c), Grace Macintyre, Allison Clarke, Sophie Maguire, Meg McLaughlin, Jessie Williams, Christina Palumbo
Team 2 - Australia 0-2 Japan The first game for this starting 11 was a real eye opener for all of us into the conditions faced in Asian competitions, with the heat and humidity getting the better of some of our players at times. Against a technically strong Japanese side that liked to push forward we were forced to defend for long periods of the game. The back four of Natalie Tobin, Alanna Kennedy, Alexandra Natoli and Lucy Metcalfe defended well and were forced into a number of last ditch tackles to keep the score line level. When the Japanese did manage to break free Brianna Davey was in spectacular form making 3 great saves to keep us in the game. Our attacks were confined to quick counter attacks with attacking midfielder Annika Clayton taking up some intelligent positions but the hot and humid conditions affected our ability to get support to her. Japans 1st goal came from a corner that was only half cleared with the resulting shot at goal being deflected to an unmarked attacker to slot home. We were now down to 10 players as Lucy Metcalfe had to leave the field with a mild case of heat exhaustion but refused to give up and managed to create two good opportunities to score, the best coming around the 25th minute when Adriana Jones broke free down the left side cut inside and delivered an accurate cross that Julia Sardo and Clayton just couldn-t make contact with. From their keepers throw they countered and after a quick passage of play scored at the far post. The players felt they have learned some great lessons from this game and look forward to putting them into practice in tomorrow-s games.
Australian line-up: Brianna Davey (gk) (c), Natalie Tobin, Alanna Kennedy, Alexandra Natoli, Lucy Metcalfe (Sophie Maguire 26'), Melissa Caceres, Julia Sardo, Mikaela Howell, Adriana Jones, Annika Clayton, Alisha Bass
Team 1 - Australia 2-1 Guam It was back to team 1 under the Festival format and with a later kick off and temperatures cooled down a little helping the girls back up a second game of the day. The girls started on the front foot this time attacking the Guam midfield and defence time after time. Meg McLaughlin cut in from the left flank on a number of occasions, but great goal keeping denied her each time. Sophie Maguire scored from a rebound off a corner in the 16th minute putting Australia 1-0 ahead. A lapse of concentration playing out from the back let Guam back into the game in the 17th minute as they equalised from the penalty spot. Many attacks were launched at the Guam team but they were determined in defence and it took another great through ball this time from right striker Christina Palumbo to open them up for Jessie Williams to tuck away another goal on the 22nd minute. This had been a good performance throughout the game and finished the day on a positive note.
Australian line-up - Shamiran Khamis, Jordan Evans, Elizabeth Ralston, Chantelle Ryder, Isobel Cootes (c), Grace Macintyre, Allison Clarke, Sophie Maguire (sub 26 min no replacement), Meg McLaughlin, Jessie Williams, Christina Palumbo