Written by the Football Federation Australia
The Qantas Matildas have bowed out of the 2006 Peace Cup after going down 2-1 to Denmark in their third and final group game played in Suwon, South Korea tonight.
In a highly entertaining match, the Qantas Matildas looked on course for a draw against the world-ranked 10th nation, but the Danes Johanna Rasmussen struck the winner with nine minutes remaining of regulation time.
Caitlin Munoz scored Australia’s goal midway through the second half, to set up a tantalizing finish. With Danes needing to win and win by a big margin to make the final, they went on the attack and scored once, although Cheryl Salisbury had a half chance to tie it all up in the dying minutes.
Denmark finished on the same points as the USA, but the latter progressed to the final against their North American counterparts Canada, with a superior goal difference, after they beat the Netherlands 2-0 in the earlier game.
Qantas Matildas coach Tom Sermanni with eye towards next years hectic schedule and FIFA Women’s World Cup, made six changes to the side that lost 2-0 to the US on Tuesday, deciding to give some of the fringe players valuable game time, as he looks to strengthen the depth of the squad.
The changes had an impact early as Denmark took control and duly scored after 15 minutes, when Maja Juliussen flicked a header at the near post past Emma Wirkus.
The Danes continued to control the play in the first half, but Sarah Walsh could have made it 1-1 two minutes before the break, when she burst into the box, but fired her shot over the bar.
The second half was much more open and with both keepers much more involved in the play.
Indeed if not for Denmark’s keeper, Collette McCallum may have had a goal or two, the young Australian midfielder twice hitting superb long range efforts that twice needed terrific saves.
Munoz however did get Australia level on 68 minutes, when she was neatly put through by a flick from Salisbury. She outpaced the defence and calmly lifted her shot over the advancing keeper.
But Denmark finished strongly and got the winner from close range, while Salisbury last ditch effort for an equalizer from an acute angle went into the side-netting.
Australia finished third in the group, courtesy of its first up win against the Netherlands, but again showed it is competitive as this level and can more than match the best teams in the world.
"We started slowly, looked sluggish and jaded," said Qantas Matildas coach Tom Sermanni. "But we slowly grinded our way back into the contest and we were hitting our stride by the end of the first half.
"“I thought for most of the second half we dominated both territorially and for chances on goal, but unfortunately we got caught on the break. I’m disappointed with the result, but their were lots of good signs in the performance and we must now put both together if we want to get among the best teams in the world.
"We are matching teams fairly comfortably and controlling possession and what we learnt from this tournament is we now finding ourselves vulnerable to counter-attacks, which is relatively new for us.
"Our main goal from the this tournament was next years Olympic Games qualifiers and World Cup and this tournament gave me the chance to look at players that are on the fringes an opportunity to show what they can do against quality opposition. From that point of view, it was beneficial," Sermanni adde.