Sunday, May 30, 2010

Can the Matildas make history? 2010 AFC Women's Cup Final

So it's almost time, in just a little under an hour we'll be able to find out whether this Matildas team can make a little history of its own. Which is all pretty amazing really when we think about where the Matildas have been since the last Asian Cup, there has been retirements of legends and plenty more who had a break from the game, but also a new women's league in Australia and with it more games and more time for the new generation to develop.

Ie, what looked like a pretty dire situation two years ago, has now actually turned-out to be a great one. There is no doubt the W-League has played a role. I'm sure that players like Elise Kellond-Knight, Teigan Allen and Sam Kerr would have been part of the Matildas senior team some-day, but perhaps not as quickly as they have thanks to the experience in the W-League. There they showed Tom Sermanni that they aren't just promising young players, they are already mature enough and good enough to play senior international football. That's certainly what we have seen from them in the Asian Cup.

The other great thing about this campaign is that it will keep those senior players who are still there in for at least one more W-League season and one more international one, in the lead-in to the FIFA 2010 Women's World Cup. Someone like Thea Slatyer (who has now captained the Matildas twice in the Asian Cup, the first time she's worn the armband for her country), who only played a handful of minutes in the W-League this season after returning from an overseas adventure, will no doubt play every-single game this year. And that's great news for the next generation of Matildas coming through, because the better the W-League, the better the Australian women's football program will be.

And of course, it doesn't need to be pointed out that going to the FIFA World Cup is another huge positive, but the point I'm going to make here is exposure. While people are still banging on about the Matildas being so far behind the men in media coverage, money etc (which is still mostly true) people still forget that now, as opposed to even 10-years ago), women can earn enough to live-on playing football in Europe or America and I reckon there are plenty of Australian's that could hold their own in those leagues, playing against the best in the world in Germany next year might convince those clubs too and that can also only be a benefit.

But all that is still in the future, right now, this group of girls has a chance to make history now as the only Australian team to win an Asian Cup. On the AFC website, Tom Sermanni thinks that Australia’s ability to score goals from all across the park will be the difference. I think it’s not just that that could set this team apart, it’s just how entertaining they could be at scoring goals too. Sarah Walsh, Katie Gill, Heather Garriock and Sam Kerr are all capable of a spectacular shot and I hope that now with the pressure of actually qualifying for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup off, they will just go for it and produce some of that brilliantly entertaining football that we know they can.

North Korea have won three out of the last four tournaments, but they have brought a younger team this time and aren't the powerhouse they used to be.

So what will happen? I'm not going to predict the starting line-up as I've been terrible so far, but I am thinking Lydia Williams will be in goal (like the ASEAN final last year), and that the Matildas will win. Go get it girls!

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