Walsh double secures opening win

The Qantas Matildas have commenced their qualifying campaign for the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a solid 2-0 win over Myanmar in Chinese Taipei tonight. Striker Sarah Walsh scored a goal early in each half to see off the challenge of a well-organised but outclassed opponent.

The Qantas Matildas have commenced their qualifying campaign for the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a solid 2-0 win over Myanmar in Chinese Taipei tonight.

Striker Sarah Walsh scored a goal early in each half to see off the challenge of a well-organised but outclassed opponent.

The Qantas Matildas controlled the match with Myanmar successfully defending in numbers helping to ensure the scoreline remained narrow despite the territorial dominance of the Australians.

Qantas Matildas goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri was a virtual spectator throughout with Myanmar-s first corner not arriving until five minutes from full time.

The second half was played almost entirely in the Myanmar half with Joanne Burgess and Collette McCallum hitting the post, while captain Cheryl Salisbury, defender Heather Garriock and Walsh were all denied by spectacular saves from goalkeeper May Khin Ya Min.

Australia commenced the match in dynamic fashion with both Caitlin Munoz and Walsh having the ball in the net within the opening ten minutes only to see their attempts disallowed by the referee. The deadlock soon broken with Walsh scoring after just nine minutes after being set free by a ball from Kate Gill.

“Overall I-m quite happy with the performance considering this was our first tournament match since late last year,” said Qantas Matildas coach Tom Sermanni.

“Our work in the final third of the field was disappointing in the first half, but in the second half we had much better movement and combinations in attack only to be thwarted by a little bit of bad luck and some inspired goalkeeping.”

The Qantas Matildas will now meet Uzbekistan on Friday and then host-nation Chinese Taipei on Sunday where a win in either match will ensure a top-two finish and progression to the second and final stage of qualifying. Asia-s top team DPR Korea will await Australia in the four-team group which commences in April with only the top team to progress to the 2008 Olympic Games.

The Qantas Matildas have already qualified for the 2007 FIFA Women-s World Cup also to be held in China, September 10-30.

ch Details

AUSTRALIA 2 (Sarah Walsh 9-/55-) MYANMAR 0

Australian line-up: Melissa Barbieri (gk); Di Alagich, Cheryl Salisbury (c), Kate McShea, Heather Garriock; Collette McCallum, Joanne Peters, Joanne Burgess (Lana Harch 82-); Kate Gill, Sarah Walsh (Sasha McDonnell 76-), Caitlin Munoz (Karla Reuter h/t)

Cautions: McShea 71-

The Qantas Matildas squad for Stage 1 of the AFC Olympic Qualifying tournament in Chinese Taipei, February 21-25 is:

Goalkeepers - Melissa Barbieri (Melbourne), Emma Wirkus (Adelaide)

Defenders - Di Alagich (Sydney), Rhian Davies (Sydney), Heather Garriock (Sydney), Kate McShea (Brisbane), Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane), Karla Reuter (Newcastle), Cheryl Salisbury (Newcastle), Thea Slatyer (Sydney)

Midfielders - Joanne Burgess (Sydney), Lauren Colthorpe (Newcastle), Lana Harch (Brisbane), Collette McCallum (Perth), Joanne Peters (Newcastle), Danielle Small (Sydney)

Forwards - Kate Gill (Newcastle), Sasha McDonnell (Brisbane), Caitlin Munoz (Canberra), Sarah Walsh (Sydney)

(* current home city)

Wednesday 21 February 4pm (7pm AEST) Australia v Myanmar 6pm Chinese Taipei v Uzbekistan

Friday 23 February 4pm (7pm AEST) Uzbekistan v Australia 6pm Myanmar v Chinese Taipei

Sunday 25 February 2pm Uzbekistan v Myanmar 4pm (7pm AEST) Chinese Taipei v Australia

Venue Chungshan Stadium, Kaohslung, Chinese Taipei

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