A shocking result tonight for our beloved Comm Bank Matildas as they went down 1-0 to South Korea in the Quarter Final of the Womens Asian Cup. A shocking result is an understatement when you consider that the Matildas were favourites to win the tournament. So, for me, all the blame falls on manager Tony Gustavsson.
Before the start of the tournament, I said on the Circle in Rectangle show that if we didn’t progress through the group stage with an unbeaten record he should step down from his post. Now they did manage to achieve a perfect 3/3 games and progress through to the knockout stages, but to lose tonight in this fashion, when they were clear favourites and should’ve easily taken care of the South Korean side.
It was always going to be a tough challenge, but one that with the quality of the squad they took over, should’ve been one they progressed through. When you have the Greatest player in the world in your squad as well as a number of players playing in the top divisions in Europe, taking on the 18th ranked side while a challenge should have resulted in a win and progression into the semi-finals.
Before I give my thoughts and review on the match, I will say, the starting line up for the game from the Matildas was probably as good as it could get. The only change I perhaps would’ve made would be for Mackenzie Arnold to have started in goal and maybe Hayley Raso to have started ahead of Kyah Simon.
The first half was a battle, the South Koreans were rather dubiously awarded a Penalty in the 34th minute but failed to take advantage of the opening as Cho Sohyun skyed the ball well over the bar. Chances were few and far between for both sides. The South Koreans probably had the better of the chances in the first half but failed to capitalise thankfully.
In the second half it was the Matildas who turned up the pressure. Dominating much of the possession and creating clear chance after clear chance yet were unable to find the back of the net. The best chance fell to the GOAT Sam Kerr after a beautiful run into the box by Cortnee Vine who found Kerr unmarked in the six-yard box, but her first time shot went punishingly wide. Finally, in the 87th minute the deadlock was broken. Confusion on the edge of the area from Fowler and Vine led to a brilliant run and fantastic strike from Ji Soyun. However, I can’t help but think Keeper Lydia Williams could’ve done a little bit better with it, nevertheless it was a fantastic goal worthy of winning any game.
The Matildas threw everything at the Koreans in the remaining minutes, a very good chance fell yet again to Sam Kerr but tonight it appeared the gods weren’t on her side. After 6 minutes of injury time, the referee blew full time on the match, ending the Matildas tournament far earlier than I think any of us expected. For the majority of Tillies fans, a Final was the minimum expectation when you consider the side they took and the competition they came up against. Surely the FFA must remove Tony Gustavsson from the position immediately. Under him the performances have been severely underwhelming. The one highlight from his term has to be the win over team Great Britain in the Olympics although some will point to the friendly win over Brazil or the comeback draw against the USWNT, but realistically, his time in charge has been terrible.
So, as I type this, the disappointment and disbelief is real, we should have been looking forward to a Semi Final match with a view to the Final, yet we will now be turning towards the 2023 World Cup, surely with a new Manager in charge. The one positive I’ll take away from this result is a rather selfish one, Remy Siemsen and Courtney Vine will return to Sydney FC earlier than expected now, and I’m sure the Chelsea fans will look forward to Sam Kerrs return as they’ve struggled to find the net since she joined up with the Matildas.