The Westfield Young Matildas have gone down on penalties to Japan’s U-23 side in the final of the AFF Women’s Championship in Yangon.
The Westfield Young Matildas have gone down on penalties to Japan-s U-23 side in the final of the AFF Women-s Championship in Yangon. The match between the two top sides in the competition finished 1-1 at full-time, with Japan prevailing 5-3 from the spot to claim the championship.
Australia have had some tense matchups against Japan in recent times and the latest instalment in the rivalry certainly lived up to expectations. The Young Matildas opened the scoring in the 21st minute through Natalie Tobin, with her fine strike giving Australia something to show for their early dominance. The Sydney FC midfielder found the ball in space on the edge of the penalty area and was able to fire home to the delight of her teammates.
The goal galvanised the Young Matildas confidence and they went on to dominate possession for the rest of the half, creating numerous chances but unable to double their advantage. This was something they were left to rue shortly after the interval when Japan netted a fortunate equaliser. Japan-s captain Kaga found the Young Matildas defence on the back-foot on 49 minutes and her shot was deflected past keeper Eliza Campbell.
Both sides were undefeated at the tournament leading into the final, with Australia-s opponents having notched a remarkable 19 goals, whilst only two. There was some majestic football played throughout the second half, which belied the heavy pitch and schedule. However neither side were able to carve out a winner and with there being no extra-time the final went straight to penalties at the full-time whistle.
Both countries traded successful shots in the shoot-out to square the ledger at 3-3. Unfortunately Natasha Wheeler had her effort saved by Japan-s goalkeeper Miho and they went on to close out the final. It was a disappointing end for the Young Matildas but they can be extremely proud of their performance against seasoned opposition. The experience will no doubt give the side great confidence leading into next month-s FIFA U-20 Women-s World Cup qualifiers in China.
Australia U-20 1 (Tobin 21') Japan U-23 1 (Kaga 49') Japan win 5 - 3 on penalties
Westfield Young Matildas starting XI: 18. Eliza Campbell, 4. Grace Field, 5. Emma Checker, 7. Chloe Logarzo, 8. Natalie Tobin, 9. Olivia Price, 10. Hayley Raso, 11. Brittany Whitfield, 15. Amy Harrison, 16. Natasha Wheeler, 19. Sarah Carroll
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