Matildas kicked off their AFC Womens Asian Cup tournament with a massive 18-0 win over Indonesia in Mumbai. In a game that they were largely expected to win and win comfortably, the expected goals for the Matildas was 11.5 before the match, So to score 18 goals is an impressive result, despite the opposition.
Tony Gustavsson’s first squad announcement for the tournament was a great one to his credit. He handed Mackenzie Arnold the first start in goal an experienced backline of Carpenter, Kennedy, Polkinghorne and Catley. He handed former Sydney FC midfielder Clare Wheeler a start in the centre of midfield alongside Emily Van Egmond with Hayley Raso and Mary Fowler out wide and the deadly duo of Caitlin Foord and the Goat Sam Kerr up front.
The Matildas got off to a great start with Sam Kerr scoring a brace inside 11 minutes before completing her hattrick in the 26th minute. She would end up bagging 5 goals in a dominant performance. She started the game 2nd on the all-time goal scorers list for Australia and ended it in outright 1st ahead of Socceroo’s legend Tim Cahill as she moved to 54 goals in her career. She easily could’ve had 6 or 7 goals, but she was unselfish on a number of occasions looking to square the ball to teammates when she could’ve easily scored herself. She’s the GOAT, it’s that simple.
One of the most pleasing things to see during the game was the patient build up play from the girls even though they didn’t have to work hard to find goals. Having the game awareness to constantly restart the build up play by going back to Polks or Wheeler to restart the attacking move. Each attacking move into the box was met with very little resistant allowing the Matildas to try and set up for the best possible chance, although it didn’t always eventuate in a goal.
At Halftime the Matildas had a commanding 9-0 lead. A perfect opportunity for Tony to bring on some younger girls to get some more gametime early in the tournament. But no, in what was his only major mistake in this game, he brought on Luik, Simon and Yallop at the start of the second half instead of giving the likes of Vine, Cooney-Cross and Siemsen. I get that this is likely to be their last major tournament but its time to think about the future, the 2023 World Cup on home soil. His best move was bringing on Holly McNamara from Melbourne City. She looked lively and dangerous but was unable to get on the score sheet.
For some boring stats to finish this blog. The Matildas controlled the game with 80% possession, and it was easy to see their dominance. The Tillies had 26 shots on target that lead to 18 goals. Although they did allow 1 shot on target against them when a defensive mix up lead to a break away goal. Luckily Ellie Carpenter showed quick speed to close down the break away as the shot rolled into the safe arms of Mackenzie Arnold.
It was a truly dominant performance from the Matildas to start their tournament, and I fully expect them to continue on this way for the remainder of the group stage. As I said on the Circle in Rectangle show this week, anything less than 9 points from the group stage is unacceptable and it won’t be the fault of the players.