Monday, May 31, 2010

2010 AFC Women's Asian Cup final - Australia 1 bt DPR Korea 1 (5-4 on penalties)

Wow, what a final, for a host of reasons and not all of them good. (Um, did you see the pitch? More like a swamp), but this is how the final moments of the AFC Womens Asian Cup in Chengdu went.

After tied of 90minutes of normal time, then another 30minutes of super-painful extra-time, no-one could have made playing in that torrential rain and the swamp easy, it all came down to penalties.

DPR Korea go first, Korea score. Nicely taken penalty to the corner.
Sal Shipard - SCORES!
DPR Korea, a big miss.
Kylie Ledbrook - SCORES! Almost exactly the same spot as Shipard's.
DPR, Barbieri went the right way, but just missed getting a hand on it and it goes in.
Kate Gill - SCORES! Another one pretty much straight down the middle.
DPR, put it into the top corner and scores, very very hard for any keeper to get that one.
Heather Garriock - SCORES!
DPR Korea, score as Barbier gets stuck to her spot.
Kyah Simon - SCORES! And the Asian Cup is all Australia's! Way to make a bit of history girls!

MATCH DETAILS - AUSTRALIA 1 (Sam Kerr 19’) bt JAPAN 1 (Ra Un Sim 73'), Australia win on penalties 5-4 at the Chengdu Sports Center Stadium, Chengdu, China
Referee: Sachiko Yamagishi
Australia starting line-up: 1.Melissa BARBIERI (gk) (c), 4.Clare POLKINGHORNE, 5.Lauren COLTHORPE, 6.Servet UZUNLAR, 7.Heather GARRIOCK, 12. Kate GILL, 14.Collette MCCALLUM (27.Aivi LUIK 97’), 15.Sally SHIPARD, 16.Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT (10.Kylie LEDBROOK 101’), 22.Sam KERR (17.Kyah SIMON 75’), 23.Kim Carroll
Substitutes not used: 18.Lydia WILLIAMS (gk), 3.Karla REUTER, 13.Thea SLATYER, 19.Leena KHAMIS, 25.Casey DUMONT (gk), 31.Teigen ALLEN
Injured: Tameka Butt, Sarah Walsh, Lisa De Vanna
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
DPR Korea starting line-up: 1.Hong Myong Hui (gk), 4.Yun Song Mi, 5.Choe Yong Sim, 6.Ra Un Sim, 8.Jo Yun Mi, 9.Rei Ye Gyong, 10.Kim Yong Ae (14.Yun Hyon Hi 53’), 11.Kim Kyong Hwa (15.Mun Chol Mi 70’), 13.Kim Chung Sim (20.Ri Hyon Suk 103’), 16.Yu Jong Hui, 21.Song Jong Sun
Substitutes not used: 3.Kwon Jong Sun, 7.Choe Un Ju, 12.Kim Un Ju, 17.Jon Myong Hwa, 18.Jo Yun Mi (gk), 22.Ri Jin Sim (gk)
Yellow cards: Choe Yong Sim 45’
Red cards: Nil

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tom Sermanni's new hair

Anyone else notice anything different in that pre-match interview? Umm, yes. Where is your mo and silver locks Tom? It seems they have been the victim of the Matildas success.

Thanks to Sal Shipard's insight here, Sermanni made the promise that the girls could get rid of said moustache and dye his hair if they qualified for the World Cup, so hello Germany, goodbye facial hair!

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!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Matildas qualify for 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup!

It was close, it was sometimes scrappy and sometimes brilliant, but Katie Gill's half-time goal was just enough last night to clinch the Matildas place in the 2010 AFC Women's Asian Cup final and with it, a place in next year's FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany.

So yay for that! Great effort girls! Some interesting choices, with Elise Kellond-Knight in defence and Clare Polkinghorne playing an attacking role, but it all worked out somehow in what looked to me to be a frenetic, crazy kind of game. (Like, just how many goal kicks did Barbieri have in the first 25-minutes? A bucketload). Tommy was certainly very pleased with the effort at last night's presser in Chengdu, China, you can read what he had to say here.

Now the next thing is, can the Matildas capture their first-ever Asian Cup title when they meet Korea DPR in the final on Sunday night? Well given they beat Japan, the roaring favourites to win this, you would have to think the Matildas are in with a chance.

Here is the match details re Japan, more re the final to come later!

AFC Women's Cup semi-final - AUSTRALIA 1 (Kate Gill 45’+1) bt JAPAN 0 at the Thursday, 27 May 2010 at Chengdu Sports Center Stadium, Chengdu, China
Referee: Pannipar Kamnueng
Australia starting line-up: 1.Melissa BARBIERI (gk) (c), 4.Clare POLKINGHORNE, 5.Lauren COLTHORPE (27.Aivi LUIK 82’), 6.Servet UZUNLAR, 7.Heather GARRIOCK, 12. Kate GILL, 14.Collette MCCALLUM (22.Sam KERR 90’), 15.Sally SHIPARD, 16.Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 23.Kim Carroll, 9.Sarah WALSH (31.Teigen ALLEN 61’)
Substitutes not used: 18.Lydia WILLIAMS (GK), 3.Karla REUTER, 10.Kylie LEDBROOK, 13.Thea SLATYER (c), 17.Kyah SIMON, 19.Leena KHAMIS, 24.Tameka BUTT, 25.Casey DUMONT (gk)
Yellow cards: Collette MCCALLUM 37’, Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT 50’
Red cards: Nil
Japan starting line-up: 12.Kaihori Ayumi (gk), 2.Iwashimizu Azusa, 3.Yano Kyoko (Megumi 88’), 4.Kumagai Saki, 5.Kinga Yukari, 6.Sameshima Aya, 8.Miyama Aya, 9.Nagasato Yuki, 10.Sawa Homare, 13.Yamaguchi Mami (Ando KOZUE 35’), 16.Sudo Akiko (Utsugi Rumi 59’)
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

And the rest of the Matildas AFC Women's Cup Group B matches

Oops-a-daisy, but unfortunately this whole travelling through Canada thing hasn't helped when it comes to regular internet access. Luckily I've been able to catch-up on all the Matildas news thanks to kind people who have emailed me, but if you missed it, here is a recap.

What happened in their Group B matches? Since we last spoke, the pretty much full-strength Matildas beat the Korea Republic 3-1 thanks to three second-half goals, but then a half-strength (or would we even call it that?) team lost 1-0 to China. Which certainly wasn't the end of the world, but it does mean we have to now play Japan in the semi-final - which is a lot harder than North Korea.

What about Lisa de Vanna? Yep, that's a broken leg folks, suffered against China. Which seems to be a bit of unfortunate trend when it comes to Australia's top strikers. Sarah Walsh first (last year), now Lisa. Let's hope that it doesn't come in threes.

What's next? A semi-final match-up against Japan, who topped Group A. Not only did they finish up there, they scored 14 goals in three matches and conceded only one. They did have the easier group, but still all those goals and the fact that the are undefeated, that has got to instill some confidence. The loss of de Vanna could also affect Australia to two ways. One is that the Matildas will step-up to cover the loss and just find goals from elsewhere (or give Sam Kerr a start, which is kind of an exciting thought), the other is that they may be a bit lost. Which they can't really afford to do against Japan, a team with all those goals and all that confidence. Because the simply reality is that win this semi-final against Japan (on May 26th at 6pm Australian time), they are into the AFC Asian Women's Cup final and will have qualified for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany. Lose and they face the third/four play-off game, which they must win to make it. After what happened to the Australian under-17 team earlier this year, went through the group stage undefeated, lost a heart-breaking seven-goal semi-final and then lost the third/fourth game to miss out on their spot at the under-17 World Cup. Of course, the senior Matildas team is a lot more experienced and most have been playing at this top-level for years, but that might still linger in the mind of a few in this team - included Sam Kerr and assistant coach Robbie Hooker (who was the coach of that 17's team). Whatever happens, I'll be sure to be tuned in to this one and I hope you do too, live on ABC TV.

MATCH DETAILS for those other two group-games -
bt Korea Republic 1 (Kang SUN MI 70’) on Wednesday, May 19, at the Chengdu Sports Center Stadium, Chengdu, China.
Referee: Sachiko YAMAGISHI
Assistant referees: Takahashi SAORI and Ayukai SHIHO
Fourth official: Pannipar KAMNUENG
Australia starting line-up: 1.Melissa BARBIERI (gk) (c), 4.Clare POLKINGHORNE, 5.Lauren COLTHORPE, 6.Servet UZUNLAR, 7.Heather GARRIOCK, 11.Lisa DE VANNA (22.Sam KERR 63’), 12. Kate GILL, 14.Collette McCallum (15.Sally SHIPARD 78'), 16.Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 23.Kim Carroll, 31.Teigen ALLEN (9.Sarah WALSH 56')
Substitutes not used: 18.Lydia WILLIAMS (GK), 3.Karla REUTER, 10.Kylie LEDBROOK, 13.Thea SLATYER (c), 17.Kyah SIMON, 19.Leena KHAMIS, 24.Tameka BUTT, 27.Aivi LUIK, 25.Casey DUMONT (gk)
Yellow cards: Melissa BARBIERI 74’, Kate GILL 88’
Red cards: Nil
Korea Republic starting line-up: 18.Kim Jung Mi (gk), 3.Yu Ji Eun, 6.Jeon GA Eul, 10.Ji SO Yun, 12.Choe Su Jin (15.Lee Jang Mi 59’), 13.Kim Do Yeon, 14.Kwon Hah Nul (7.Yoo Young A 78’), 20.Jung Hae In, 24.Cho So Hyun, 27.Kang Sun Mi, 28.Kim Soo Yun
Substitutes not used: Nil
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil

GROUP B MATCH 3 - CHINA 1 (Zhang RUI 9') bt AUSTRALIA 0 on Sunday, May 23 at the Chengdu Sports Center Stadium, Chengdu, China
Referee: Sachiko YAMAGISHI (Japan)
Assistant referees: Ayukai SHIHO (Japan) and Takahashi SAORI (Japan)
Fourth official: Semaksuk PRAEW (Thailand)
Australia starting line-up: 18.Lydia WILLIAMS (GK), 3.Karla REUTER, 7.Heather GARRIOCK, 9.Sarah WALSH (11.Lisa DE VANNA 53’) (22.Sam KERR 73’), 10.Kylie LEDBROOK, 13.Thea SLATYER (c), 15.Sally SHIPARD, 17.Kyah SIMON (14.Collette MCCALLUM 60’), 19.Leena KHAMIS, 24.Tameka BUTT, 27.Aivi LUIK
Substitutes not used: 1.Melissa BARBIERI (gk), 4.Clare POLKINGHORNE, 5.Lauren COLTHORPE, 6.Servet UZUNLAR, 12. Kate GILL, 16.Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 23.Kim Carroll, 31.Teigen ALLEN, 5.Lauren COLTHORPE, 25.Casey DUMONT
Yellow cards: Karla REUTER 20’
Red cards: Nil
China starting line-up: 1.Zhang YANRU (GK), 2.Liu HUANA, 3.Yuan FAN, 5.Weng XINZHI, 7.Bi YAN, 8.Xu YUAN, 9.Han DUAN (13.Ma JUN), 14.Li DANYANG, 15.Sun LING, 16.Zhang RUI (11.You JIA 84’), 24.Ma ZIXIANG (19.Lou JIAHUI 76’)
Substitutes not used: 4.Jin XIAMOEI, 6.Zhang NA, 12.Guan JINGJING, 17.Pang FENGYUE, 18.Weng XIAOJIE (gk), 20.Zhou GAOPING
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Matildas 2 bt Vietnam 0 in 2010 AFC Asian Women's Cup Group B Match 1

So the Matildas kickstarted their 2010 AFC Asian Women's Cup with a win! And even more interesting, in the other match in Group B, Korea Republic and China played out a 0-0 draw. That has two great benefits, that Australia already have three points while the two teams they really have to beat to get into the finals only has one and the Matildas already have a better goal difference. But aside from that, let's look quickly at last night's game and what it all means.

The good parts: A relatively easy win to get confidence up and experience into Australia's most inexperienced line-up. I though Leena Khamis was great, she just has that bit of anger, and she uses it to perfection. Her aggressive style, which was just to run straight at Vietnam's defenders, worked very well. Kylie Ledbrook was great too and I think she deserves to stay in the midfield when the A-team comes in against Korea. Defence was fine, Slatyer and Uzunlar the best, but they also didn't get very much of a work-out.

The bad parts: Some terrible passing early on in the game and getting too caught-up in Vietnam's game, which was basically to try and boot the ball anywhere they could out of defence. It didn't really work for them, and it didn't really work for the Matildas. But still enough quality there to show the Matildas deserved the win. Aivi Luik and Sally Shipard had a few 'oops' moments where they lost the ball, but both always chased it up. Plus for Luik that game was mostly about experience and for Shipard, getting back in the swing of it, they'll both be better for it. Not anything bad actually, just showed that some players were a little rusty, and some inexperienced, which was to be expected in that starting XI.

What Tom said: “Vietnam played very well and it was a tough first game. They were disciplined in defence and had some good passages of play,” said Sermanni.
“We are pleased to get the win which was our aim as we knew it would be difficult. I am satisfied with the win, but I think we could have played better.
“We have come to expect tough games against the likes of Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar, so to come through unscathed with a win is a positive.
“But we did have quite a few nerves and we didn't quite reach the high expectations we could have.”

“When we play in these tournaments it is very important to use the squad as a whole instead of just relying on the same starting 11.

“Both China and Korea will be very difficult to play against and to beat.
“There will be significant changes for the next game and we’ll see where we are placed following that.”

What comes next: Korea Republic - who opened with that aformentioned 0-0 draw with China in their match last night. And almost a whole team full of changes, with Polkinghorne, Garriock, McCallum, Walsh, Gill and de VVanna still to come in. I'd be very surprised if any of those players didn't play next game.
Interesting that Elise Kellond-Knight didn't play, which makes me think she is now considered one of the top Matildas midfielders. I'm a huge KK fan, she's gritty and tough but also technically very good, so I'd be very happy to see her holding down a central position in there.

AUSTRALIA 2 (Leena KHAMIS 28’, Kylie LEDBROOK 52’ (pen)) bt VIETNAM 0 at the Chengdu Sports Center Stadium, Chengdu, China on Wednesday, May 19, 2010.
Referee: Ri Hyang OK
Assistant referees: Hong Kum NYO and Liu Hsiu MEI
Fourth official: Sachiko Yamagishi
Australia starting line-up: 18.Lydia WILLIAMS (GK), 3.Karla REUTER, 5.Lauren COLTHORPE (31.Teigen ALLEN 64’), 6.Servet UZUNLAR (22.Sam KERR 53’), 10.Kylie LEDBROOK, 13.Thea SLATYER (c), 15.Sally SHIPARD, 17.Kyah SIMON, 19.Leena KHAMIS, 24.Tameka BUTT, 27.Aivi LUIK
Substitutes not used: 1.Melissa BARBIERI (gk), 4.Clare POLKINGHORNE, 7.Heather GARRIOCK, 9.Sarah WALSH, 11.Lisa DE VANNA, 12. Kate GILL, 16.Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, , 25.Casey DUMONT (gk)
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
Vietnam starting line-up: 1.TRINH (gk), 4.Nguywen Thi Hanh, 7.Nguyen Thi Nga, 8.Dao Thi Mien, 13.Nguyen Thi Muon (19.Oanh 76’), 14.Chi, 15.Anh, 16.Le Thi Thuong, 18.Nguyet,23.Hong,29.An
Substitutes not used: 3.Nhieu Tuy Linh, 5.Nhu, 10.Nguyen Thi Thanh, 12.Phu, 17.Nguyen Hai Hoa, 20.Nguyet, 28.Do Thi Thu Trang, 27.Duong Thi Danh (gk), 28.Ngoc
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Matildas v Vietnam - AFC Women's Asian Cup Group Match 1

The latest news on the squad that is set to start the 2010 AFC Women's Asian Cup opener for Australia is this, Lydia Williams in goal, Melissa Barbieri on the bench. Defender Thea Slatyer will wear the captain's armband. And two wonderful stories in that Aivi Luik will play, completing the journey she set out to when she came back to Australia from America at the end of last year, with a goal to get into the Matildas, and so will Sally Shipard, who is back on the international stage after a two-year-break and a W-League season where she signed for Canberra United but couldn't play at all due to an international transfer hold-up.

Thanks for the update FFA, and go get-em girls!

So looks like I was rather off in my starting XI predictions, this is who is out there. Williams (GK), Slatyer (C), Colthorpe, Luik, Khamis, Butt, Shipard, Simon, Uzunlar, Reuter and Ledbrook. Six minutes in and going ok so far.

Game update: 29minutes, goal! Lovely Leena Khamis header. Matildas have dominated so far, but at times got caught up in Vietnam's tendency to just kick the ball around anywhere instead of to a teammate. Am watching the game via dodgy internet stream with no commentary, but at least it's on!

Half-time update: still 1-0 to the Matildas and they are looking very much in control, although at sometimes kind of uncontrolled. What do I mean? Well the Matildas are dominating, but there has been some errant passes and too many lost long balls. So still plenty to work on in the second half, but if they can, the goals should start to flood in.

51st minute: Kylie Ledbrook very nicely finishes the penalty that Tameka Butt earned. 2-0 Matildas.

And oh dear, there goes my internet feed. Well, it's been fun so far. See you again soon.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Latest team news - Sarah Walsh is in! - Plus first eleven

So just a matter of days away now and the good news from Matildas camp in Chengdu is that Sarah Walsh has passed a fitness test on her knee and will be in the squad for the 2010 AFC Women's Asian Cup. That means Michelle Heyman is back on a plane to Australia. But overall for Australia's chances, it's a GREAT thing that Walsh is fit because she is one of just four Australian gals plying their trade overseas and that experience is going to count for a lot come May 19.

The top Matildas goalscorer in the current squad was pretty relieved to get there, “It’s been a long four weeks and I’m very grateful to our medical team and Tom (Sermanni) who worked so hard and showed me so much support to get me back in time for the cup,” Walsh said. “Now my knee is strong it’s about concentrating on my fitness and getting out there to help the girls qualify for the World Cup and win the Asian Cup.”

But when the match kicks-off at 5pm Australian time on Wednesday, who will actually be out there? I'm not sure if Walsh will be on the field, although she is usually first-choice striker with DeVanna coming off the bench, but will her knee be up for the 60 or 70minutes she will have to play if she starts? So there are still plenty of questions as there are a few players in the mix in this squad that didn't play in the last four friendlies. So here is my guess at the starting eleven, in four-four-two although they are probably just as likely to play four-three-three, for the first game against Vietnam.

GK - Melissa Barbieri
Defenders - Clare Polkinghorne, Thea Slatyer, Kim Carroll, Heather Garriock
Midfielders - Collette McCallum, Lauren Colthorpe, Elise Kellond-Knight, Sally Shipard
Strikers - Katie Gill, Lisa de Vanna
Bench - Sarah Walsh, Karla Reuter, Tameka Butt, Kyah Simon, Lydia Williams (GK)

But a few reasons, given Barbieri is now Matildas captain I expect her to start in every-game, with Williams and then Dumont as the back-up order in case of injury. I think the central defenders will be Kim Carroll and Thea Slatyer, an experienced duo who are also just very very tough, but with some speed on the outside in Polkinghorne and Garriock because the Matildas will need it to shut down those speedy Asian attacks. There is so many quality midfielders it's hard to pick which way Tom Sermanni will structure it there, but Collette McCallum is the best set-piece taker in the Matildas and will start. I really like the way KK plays the game, so she's in my team, but could also be Kylie Ledbrook in a more defensive position, or Aivi Luik, or Kyah Simon in a role there. I'd also like to see Sal Shipard get a go, because after last year's W-League season debacle which you can find more about here and here (although they have spelt her name wrong, come on Half Time Heroes), I think she deserves it. She was a starting member of the team in the 2007 World Cup, when she was still a teenager. But compared to lots of other players, she doesn't have that much game-time under her belt, so you can see how other players would be ahead of her. I think Tameka Butt will definitely play, but just whether it's an impact player off the bench or as a starter, I'm waiting to see. The strikers, well that's probably the easiest. It will be Katie Gill and either Lisa de Vanna or Sarah Walsh. I'm 99 per cent sure on that one.

Given I have been overseas and not actually been able to watch any of those lead-up games (which has frustrated me no end), this is probably way off, but I thought I would give it a go anyway. So please chip in with your starting XI's and let's see who is closest to pinning the tail on the donkey!

And remember, for all of you lucky enough to be in Australia, watch the game live on ABC. After all, they have also just agreed to cover the competition until its conclusion on May 29, on top of Australia's group matches. So if the Matildas do make it through to the finals, they will be live on TV too. And finally,


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Matildas 2010 Asian Cup squad vs the 2007 Matildas World Cup squad

So the Matildas leave for China tomorrow for the 2010 Asian Cup, and as of today have one extra passenger, Central Coast Mariner Michelle Heyman.

Heyman, who was voted the best player in the W-League last season and the golden boot winner, is in as injury cover for senior striker Sarah Walsh. Now Walsh will still travel to China and be given until May 17, when the FFA has to submit it's full squad to the AFC, to prove her fitness. Otherwise it looks like Heyman will be going from local women's premier league in New South Wales, to an international stage in 12-months. It's funny how a little thing like opportunity, wouldn't have happened if not for the W-League, can help out with that.

So shall we talk about the squad? How it's all coming together and if they are really a chance to qualify for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany? Well, I could, but first let's start with something that requires a little back-tracking, but I think is certainly worth it.

Because what I want to know is, after all this talk of a complete rebuilding period in Australian women's football after a host of post 2007 World Cup retirements - how different is this actual squad from that World Cup edition?

So I decided to crunch the maths, and here is the comparison.

Goalkeepers – Melissa BARBIERI, Lydia WILLIAMS, Casey DUMONT
Defenders –  Heather GARRIOCK, Clare POLKINGHORNE, Thea SLATYER, Teigen ALLEN, Kim CARROLL, Karla REUTER, Servet UNZULAR,
Midfielders – Lauren COLTHORPE, Collette McCALLUM, Sally SHIPARD, Tameka BUTT, Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, Aivi LUIK, Kylie LEDBROOK,
Forwards – Lisa DeVANNA, Kate GILL, Sarah WALSH, Sam KERR, Leena KHAMIS, Kyah SIMON

Goalkeepers – Melissa BARBIERI, Lydia WILLIAMS, Emma WIRKUS
Midfielders – Lauren COLTHORPE, Alicia FERGUSON, Collette McCALLUM, Joanne PETERS, Sally SHIPARD, Danielle SMALL
Forwards – Joanne BURGESS, Lisa DeVANNA, Kate GILL, Caitlin MUNOZ, Sarah WALSH

But what does it all mean Basil?

Well there are 12 players returning from the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup. They are, Melissa BARBIERI, Karla REUTER, Lydia WILLIAMS, Heather GARRIOCK, Clare POLKINGHORNE, Thea SLATYER, Lauren COLTHORPE, Collette McCALLUM, Sally SHIPARD, Lisa DeVANNA, Kate GILL and Sarah WALSH.

The new faces in 2010 are: Teigen Allen, Tameka Butt, Casey Dumont, Kim Carroll, Elise Kellond-Knight, Sam Kerr, Leena Khamis, Aivi Luik, Clare Polkinghorne, Kyah Simon and Servet Uzunlar. And now possibly Michelle Heyman.

So pretty much the squad is half new. But is it a completely new generation of Matildas? I think it can probably be argued both ways.

One is that yes, it is, simply because of the players who aren't there. Cheryl Salisbury was a once in a lifetime player. She simply could not be directly replaced in the Matildas team, because there isn't anyone else like her. Then there is Jo Peters, Di Alagich, both players with a huge amount of international experience who also retired.

But there is also a lot of familar faces in all positions and in particular in the attacking half. Although if Walsh is injured it will be a huge blow, Lisa de Vanna and Kate Gill are a more than capable duo. Add in Sam Kerr off the bench and there is a world class attack. The defence and midfield will be a lot less experienced together, but stick Heather Garriock and Sally Shipard in the middle with some new Matildas and it will always be a dangerous line-up. Thea Slatyer and Clare Polkinghorne are great tough defenders, and if you put them at centre-back it could allow for some more attacking players on the wings, or even put Polkinghorne out there on a wing and Servet Uzunlar in the middle. Another interesting storyline will be what happens in goal. Melissa Barbieri's selection as captain suggests she will start every game, but in the past two years she and Lydia Williams have had an on-off type arrangement. Casey Dumont is also right-up there if we are going on W-League form, not age and experience.

Whichever way you look at it, it's an interesting mix of old and new. It's a team with plenty of talent and let's hope it's enough to earn a second FIFA Women's World Cup berth.

I'll be following with interest, and I hope you are too.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Notes from a WPS match

So one part of being overseas is that today I actually was able to catch some WPS action, that's the Women's Pro Soccer League. Unfortunately not live, but through Fox Sports World's broadcast. So my thoughts after watching an entire game? Well it's pretty damn similar to Australia's own W-League.

I caught the Round 4 game between Sky Blue FC and FC Gold Pride, the team that has the best women's player in the world - Marta. But apart from Marta, whose skill-level is amazing, most of the players looked on par with the W-League. Of course the American game was fast and physical, but that's the way they play, and going on the game I saw yesterday, the Australian league is a more technical game and even more focused on possession. So the leagues have their differences, but going on yesterday's match, there is no reason why more of Australian couldn't get gigs there. Someone like Sam Kerr, with her physicality combined with great foot skills, I'm sure would carve it up.

But there is one thing that the WPS has that the W-League doesn't. And that is FC Gold Pride's Kiki Bosio and her flip throw. Yep, the flip throw. Here is her explanation of it, from an interview with her college team before she graduated last year.

SCU: What, if any, are the secrets behind your flip throw? How have you been able to make it such a valuable asset to your game?

KB: I don't think there are any secrets to my flip throw. It honestly is not hard to do once you get over the fear of doing it. It is a skill that I learned when I was nine years old so I have had 13 years to develop it. It has definitely been a useful tool to my game and the team's game. We've scored a number of goals off of it this year and play it similar to a corner kick.

Well anyway now Bosio is a first-year WPS player, but is starting to become a dangerous asset off the bench thanks to the craziness that is the flip-throw. Well that's what the special comments girl on the TV said, and yes, she apparently does it for every throw-in. So my question is, who will be the first to bring it into the W-League?

And to round it out, some other interesting WPS facts. If you couldn't get to the game yesterday, or the Fox Soccer TV broadcast, the game was also on an internet stream and for those lucky enough to have iphone's, a phone stream. Three different ways to watch the game? Yes please. Then there is my favourite, fantasy women's football. Check it out here. Perhaps one of the first female-athlete fantasy games out there?

Oh and the game? FC Gold Pride won 1-0 thanks to a nicely-finished set-piece goal from Canadian Christine Sinclair, who then did the chicken dance afterwards.