Sleepy Footy Observations: Asian Cup Edition Round 2

 

Morning alarms are a brutal things, especially when they ring right before 3am for the second time in a week. A result of these early morning wake up calls left me in a state of knowing had we failed to score this morning, like Sunday’s game against Korea, I would wind up crying, blaming it on a lack of sleep but we all would have known it was because of soccer. Yes I’m too emotionally dependent on sport. Luckily the Matildas had my back this morning against Vietnam hey, so no ‘tired’ tears.

So the game, in true Alan Stajic tradition, there were a wholesale of lineup changes. He really doesn’t care about us who wake up mere minutes before the game and are trying to distinguish who the heck is playing. I’m still unconvinced on which position Emily Gielnik played. Somewhere down the right hand side but was she a right back or right wing? Still hours later and I just couldn’t tell you with any true certainty. I did know Mackenzie Arnold was in goals, she was wearing a different kit so easier to tell.

Kick off, and already the story of the game appears to be a mile away from that of the last game. There was actually space to be found on the ball! The front three, lead by Sam Kerr, were switching it around, changing from playing deep to starting right on the edge of Vietnam’s defensive line. Particularly the combinations between our forwards and midfield, often instigated by the newly returned Kyah Simon, showed our intention early on that we meant business and goals were going to be coming. And gee were goals coming.

Had you set your alarm fifteen minutes late to sneak in some extra sneaky sleep, well serves you right. You missed out on the first goal. Only eight minutes in, Kerr crossed a pin point ball onto Simon’s foot, who obviously had no flashback to the missed opportunity against Korea from similar distance, instead neatly guided the ball into the back of the net. One, nil, no tears needed from me this morning. We’re in business.

Chances were about, but perhaps one of the most beautiful things that will likely go unmentioned in this game with so many goals, was having Elise Kellond-Knight back at defensive midfield to control the game. Her performance as that solid base permitted our fullbacks to adventure forward, and gee did they move forward. Was Gielnick actually playing in defence? And Carpenter may as well have been an extra forward by the end of the game.

Come the eighteenth minute, we get our first corner. Immediately it looks like David and Goliath. Our players were literally head and shoulders taller than many of theirs. Advantage us, and we took the advantage for our point. The second goal coming off a beautifully placed Kellond-Knight corner, that lands on the head of Alanna Kennedy, who didn’t even have to contest for the header. Defender goal achieved.

At 2-0 I really hope you didn’t go back to sleep, because the party was only just getting started. Minutes after our defender goal achievement, we get the utilise on a keeper mistake achievement. Vietnam goalkeeper, Thị Hàng không, came out to collect the ball at the top of the box under pressure, but Simon was too clever, won the contest and calmly slotted the ball across to Chloe Logarzo who, having an empty net, scored. Next up, the idea of changing up goal scorers continuing, Emily Van Egmond joins in on the action. After some earlier movement in the midfield that left me just thinking how our style of play with our midfielders is just super pretty to watch, Van Egmond finds herself waiting on Vietnam’s defensive line for a through ball. The through ball coming from none other than Kyah Simon, who collected another assist with her quality timed and placed ball that allowed Van Egmond to put away our fourth of the night.

Half an hour into play, we’ve got four goals. We came out to party. Vietnam call in the reinforcements, making a defensive substitution bringing on Chương Thị Kiều. Good move Vietnam, they hold the ship tight for fifteen minutes. Further this wasn’t a side scared to attack. They didn’t give up, even four goals down. Unfortunately for Vietnam, right before halftime there was break through for the Matildas again. This time, Alanna Kennedy, who was a rock in the back and strong pushing forward from centre back, showed how she is one of the best defenders in my book once again. Having the ball from deep, as most centre backs do, Kennedy somehow winds up in a position that is good enough to cross the ball into the box. The cross then landing on Kerr’s head, who finally got her goal.

 

Half time comes. We have plenty of scorers on the board, with five goals. There was lots of movement up front, and sure a couple of things to fix up, especially in defence, but no complaints going in at halftime 5-0 up. Further for this game I am prepared. 4am half times won’t be fooling my twice in one week! I’ve got my cereal prepared and turn to it during the break. I can’t name the type of cereal here, my mother might read this and call me out on the cereals sugar content. So just trust me, the cereal was good (and chocolatey, sorry mum!)

 

Start of the second half, we get another goal on the fifty-first minute after pushing for one from the kick off. You could be excused if you thought our fifth and sixth goal of the game we a repeat of each other. It was obviously something practiced on the training ground. Again Kennedy and Kerr combine to create this goal. This time Kennedy’s ball is lower, placed into Kerr’s lap, who turns and blasts it into the net. Smiles all around.

Soon after our substitutions happen, as they do when sitting on a pretty cushion of six goals. Van Egmond and Kerr both come off, with Katrina Gorry and Hayley Raso taking the field. The cameraman did us all a solid, the frame showing Van Egmond’s face clearly as she was subbed off. She was smiling exactly how any Aussie fan was at this moment, a bloody stoked feeling smile mate.

Anyway, back to the game. This half, I’m pretty certain Ellie Carpenter forgot she was a defender. She was the definition of “defenders gone wild”. Honestly this was probably something we needed against Korea to break down their lines. Really good to see in any case though.

Shout out to Vietnam, especially their keeper. There were some quality saves, specifically a punch save from a cross comes to mind. But there was just nothing that could have stopped our attack today.

The game didn’t finish on the hour mark, and we didn’t either. Another corner on the seventy first minute leads to another Kellond-Knight corner causing mayhem in the box. This time a mad scramble on the goal line, that looked messier than my bedroom. I’m pretending the goal was Laura Alleway’s because she was the only Aussie around the action, but google is telling me it was Nguyễn Thị Tuyết Dung who got the final touch and own goal. Seventh heaven.

If you were wondering whether we had enough in the tank for one more goal, I hope you didn’t doubt. Minutes after the mess of our seventh goal, we find another. This time a lot neater and better to watch. Carpenter created space and fear in the Vietnam defenders, carrying the ball into the box. Instead of shooting on the spot, she laid it off for Alex Chidiac, who passed the ball on like a hot potato to Hayley Raso, who knew what to do with it and put it in the net. Raso’s name is down for that goal, and Chidiac down for the assist, but have no doubt, it was Carpenter who created that.

Eight nil. There were more opportunities, but it seemed the footy gods were like “nope Vietnam deserve some kind of honour in this game”, and the result remained at 8 – 0. Even a clear cut penalty for a hand ball, the should have went our way, was waved off by the referee.

 

All in all, a good game for us. Had you started with a drinking game based on the amount of touches our goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold had, you would have been pretty damn sober by the end, but had it been a drink for every Matildas chance? Well you would be regretting it come morning. This was the type of game we needed before heading to play Japan, on Friday night our time. A game that will have built up confidence in our attack, especially with Simon looking deadly and having her first full ninety minutes for the Matildas in a long time. Yes we had some shoddy looking turn overs, and there were times where we probably over rely on Kennedy’s ability to clean up all messes at the back, but we needed a confidence builder after the game against Korea and an average Algarve Cup performance. Winning out a game by eight goals and a clean sheet is one heck of a confidence builder.

Onto Japan Friday. Thank goodness that’s not 3am. Instead a slightly more respectable time of 11.45pm.

 

Round 2 Results

Group A

Philippines 0 – 2 China

Thailand 6 – 1 Jordan

Group B

South Korea 0 – 0 Japan

Vietnam 0 – 8 Australia

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