Written by the Football Federation Australia
The Australian Women's U19 Team (the Qantas Young Matildas) rounded out the three-match series against China U19s with a 2-1 loss yesterday in Mandurah, WA.
All three games ended in the exact same scoreline in China's favour in this series being played as preparation before both teams compete in the FIFA U19 Women's World Championship in Thailand next month.
After a scoreless first half, it was the home side who broke the deadlock soon after half-time through Sally Shipard. However, it was not long before China's Wang Dandan responded with two goals within the space of eleven minutes to snatch the advantage from the Australians and eventually claim the win.
China pushed straight into attacking mode from the opening whistle, earning three early corner kicks to test the Australians' resolve. The Qantas Young Matildas then soon settled, going on to control good periods of play in a half where flowing football was played at both ends. China was dangerous on the quick counterattack, and their best opportunity came in the 19th minute, but the header went straight to Australian goalkeeper Yasmin Favretti, making her youth international debut.
In the following minute, Catherine Cannuli's raid up the left flank provided an inviting low cross, and the Chinese defence miscued their clearance. The loose ball however was just out of reach of an Australian boot to steer into goal. Cannuli later unleashed a cracking strike on goal but the chance forced a fantastic diving save by China's keeper Zhang Yanru, before Shipard saw her freekick attempt fly over the target.
At the start of the second half, China again pushed forward and gained four corner kicks in the first few minutes.
However, in the 56th minute, it was Australia who took the lead. The Qantas Young Matildas strung together some neat lead-up play before cutting the ball back to Olympian Shipard, who from 30 metres in front hit the top left corner of goal with a deadly strike, leaving the keeper no chance.
Nine minutes later, China equalised, somewhat against the run of play. Winning possession from an Australian build-up, China moved the ball up quickly and Wang Dandan let fly with a stinging shot from long range.
The Qantas Young Matildas were unlucky not to regain the lead in the 70th minute, when Shipard's freekick smacked against the woodwork. China continued to make inroads with their slick movement into attack from deep, and were rewarded in the 76th minute from such a move, taking the 2-1 lead. Gao Ying ran up the right flank and her low cutback was perfectly placed for the onrushing Wang Dandan to finish in clinical style from 10 metres.
China were determined to retain their lead and finished the game strongly. Australia did however have one last chance to level three minutes into stoppage time, but with Leena Khamis through on goal, the chance was blocked by keeper Zhang, and the defence just managed to keep out the resultant corner.
Women's National Coach Adrian Santrac was pleased this new Qantas Young Matildas combination had the chance to play these quality internationals against China, leading into Thailand 2004.
"These three games were the first opportunities for international competition for many of our squad," said Santrac. "All of the players have gained invaluable experience from this series. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves, our strong points, and the areas we need to keep improving. And those areas of improvement will be our focus for the remainder of our preparation leading into our first game at the world championship."
"This squad of players has enormous potential but there is also a fair bit of work to do to reach that potential. We’re all confident that we’ll get very close."
The Qantas Young Matildas' training camp continues in Perth, and on Tuesday 12 October, they play the WA State U14 Boys' Team, 1pm at Members Equity Stadium. The players then return home the following day