THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT – JUNIOR MATILDAS V IRAN

We’re back. It’s a double header day, the Junior Matildas game sharing the same time slot as their elders, but with the beauty of technology and online streaming, we could still watch this as the Junior Matildas kicked off this next phrase in their qualification to the Asian Cup against Iran. They didn’t disappoint us.

Here’s the take homes from the match.

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DEFENCE

With the timing of walking into the kitchen right as dinner has been made, is the timing of this defence to start looking more confident on and off the ball. There’s little doubt Iran put the defence under more pressure than any of their previous opponents in qualifying. Whilst the Matildas had the bulk of play, Iran were able to catch onto loose balls and attack frequently throughout the game. Up to the task, the defence remained composed, confident and capable of dealing with each threat. Even passing back to the keeper was done in an assuring way. Of course there is still room for improvement, and meeting better opposition down the track that force the midfield to completely defence will test this. However, across the back four they were stable today.

 

MIDFIELD
This is where a lot of the ball was won and lost today. No doubt are there some creative players in this group sitting in that midfield. Not only that, but we often have a shielding midfielder who is disciplined in their positioning, something that ought to be appreciated in the same light as Mars Bars being down to one dollar at Woolies. Whilst there are a lot of positives, including really working hard to win the ball back, there still needs to be a bit of a tidy up, like needing your hair trimmed. What I’m talking about is with passing. Too many loose balls. Iran were smart, they bounced on those loose balls like I do Mars Bars. Lucky the hard work in the midfield is there, meaning Iran weren’t able to capitalise as much as they very well would’ve liked to. It’s the first game of the tournament, so there is still plenty of room to improve and this is where we need to do so.

 

FORWARDS
No doubt were they making the runs. Were the runs timed well? The offside flag would beg to differ. A moment later and so many opportunities would be created. A different look here compared to previous games, as Iran didn’t sit in their box, so suddenly the world of getting in behind the defence was a reality. Absolutely wonderful. To really capitalise on this, with the pace available, timing of the old run needs to be better. From now on, there will be few opportunities where the Matildas are going to be able to completely flood the box with five or six players. We dealt with the shift well enough. Goals came from other areas. However, if the front line worked on the timing of their runs they could really be pinging and pull in a mighty feat of goals. It’ll be worth waiting those extra few seconds to start the run ok. Think of the goalsssss.

 

THE GOALS
20” Beamount did what she does best. That’s being a goal poacher, finishing off the scraps. A quality cross from the flank by Lowry had too much power on it for the Iranian keeper, who fumbled it into the path of Beamount. No need to write up the birthday invitation, she was going to finish that every time and settle the nerves of her teammates.

40” Taranto from the corner. These girls have worked on their corners, putting it in their arsenal. They reaped the benefits here. The ball was quality, put right into the danger zone of the mixer, add in a bit of chaos and some composure from Taranto and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a goal. Who doesn’t love a goal from a fullback?

93” McKenna did it herself. Upon watching this goal I firstly only caught the back end of it, rewound it to watch in full, then yelled out “I want to marry that goal”, as if that could be a reality. Legit though. McKenna won the ball in the middle of the park, put the jets on and simply ran through the guts of the field to be 1v1 with the keeper and pummeled it into the goal. She made it look simple. My goodness. There’s worldies, then there is this individual masterpiece of pure strength, composure and confidence. Take a bow.

 

NEXT
The Young Matildas meet Vietnam on Tuesday at 7pm. Bring on the next challenge.

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Both photos by Jen Willmott

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