Written by the Football Federation Australia
The Qantas Matildas have commenced their qualifying campaign for the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a solid 2-0 win over Myanmar in Chinese Taipei tonight.
Striker Sarah Walsh scored a goal early in each half to see off the challenge of a well-organised but outclassed opponent.
The Qantas Matildas controlled the match with Myanmar successfully defending in numbers helping to ensure the scoreline remained narrow despite the territorial dominance of the Australians.
Qantas Matildas goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri was a virtual spectator throughout with Myanmar’s first corner not arriving until five minutes from full time.
The second half was played almost entirely in the Myanmar half with Joanne Burgess and Collette McCallum hitting the post, while captain Cheryl Salisbury, defender Heather Garriock and Walsh were all denied by spectacular saves from goalkeeper May Khin Ya Min.
Australia commenced the match in dynamic fashion with both Caitlin Munoz and Walsh having the ball in the net within the opening ten minutes only to see their attempts disallowed by the referee. The deadlock soon broken with Walsh scoring after just nine minutes after being set free by a ball from Kate Gill.
"Overall I’m quite happy with the performance considering this was our first tournament match since late last year," said Qantas Matildas coach Tom Sermanni.
"Our work in the final third of the field was disappointing in the first half, but in the second half we had much better movement and combinations in attack only to be thwarted by a little bit of bad luck and some inspired goalkeeping."
The Qantas Matildas will now meet Uzbekistan on Friday and then host-nation Chinese Taipei on Sunday where a win in either match will ensure a top-two finish and progression to the second and final stage of qualifying. Asia’s top team DPR Korea will await Australia in the four-team group which commences in April with only the top team to progress to the 2008 Olympic Games.
The Qantas Matildas have already qualified for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup also to be held in China, September 10-30