Penalty The Difference In Matildas’ Final Warm-up

Japan 1-0 Australia

by Kris Goman

This match, played at Sanga Stadium in Kyoto saw a limited crowd of 3,000 spectators allowed in due to the Coronavirus pandemic (photo above via YouTube). 

The Matildas played 3-4-3 formation with Ellie Carpenter, Clare Polkinghorne and Steph Catley playing the back three, Tameka Yallop, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Emily Van Egmond and Kyah Simon in midfield and Caitlin Foord, Sam Kerr and Hayley Raso up the front.

Australia wore their Olympic jerseys which are making their debut. It’s mostly green with a gold triangle at the top right at the front with green shorts and from a distance, it looks a bit like a rugby jersey.

Kerr was notably wearing jersey #2. It was explained that as the team was originally 18 members, as per usual Olympic requirements, Sam chose the number two as 20 wasn’t going to be available. Then the Olympic committee changed the rules for the football teams to be 22 players and it was too late to change back, thus Charlotte Grant got the #20 jersey.

Cooney-Cross kicked off and Australia started with possession. Japan stole the ball but the cross to the box goes out and they began to press early.

There’s a long pass from midfield into the box by Carpenter but it went wide of goal with no one taking it. Foord got a run down the left but is stopped. Carpenter sends another long shot to goal which is gathered by the keeper.

Down the other end, Japan cross into the box but it also goes out. There’s a lot of long balls by both teams but no one is there to take advantage. It’s taken down the left by Japan then comes back out and is over to the right. The cross is cleared but comes right back into the box. Australia is calling for offside but the calls are ignored. Matildas need to play to the whistle. It’s cleared and a long ball goes down to Kerr but she is called offside.

Japan have more possession now but a foray into the box is cleared. Japan cross into the box from the left and Yallop clears it straight back to Japan. A shot is gathered by Micah.

The first quarter of an hour of the game has been played in Japanese territory. Van Egmond crosses to Foord in the box but she can’t get a shot away and it’s cleared. Carpenter gets it back and sends it over to Simon who takes a rather ambitious shot that is blocked at the top of the box.

Foord takes a good shot at around 19 minutes in, but it goes straight to the keeper.

Back down the other end and the back three for Australia are passing it between themselves for a while to reset. A pass to Van Egmond goes astray but Carpenter retrieves it.

A long ball to Raso is intercepted by the Japanese keeper who’s come right out. Shortly after, a cross by Raso is too far behind Kerr and goes out. Another attack ends with a foul and Japan get a free kick. Tanaka takes the shot which is blocked and held by Micah. Sugasawa is in the clear and shoots and forces a diving save by Micah.
Japan is attacking a lot more now and Sugasawa is forward and makes a run in the clear and brings Micah right out to save but she’s called offside.

Another long ball comes up to Kerr who crosses into the box. There’s a couple of runners in the box but Foord’s header goes wide to the right of goal for a goal kick. It was a good chance. It’s a long goal kick straight to Polkinghorne who heads it back to Simon. She takes a long shot from the right straight to the keeper.

Above: Caitlin Foord (left) battles it out in Australia’s friendly with Japan yesterday. Photo: The Guardian

Van Egmond gets a free kick from an Iwabuchi foul. It eventually gets out to Yallop who does a 1-2 with Kerr before taking a shot which is caught in the top bins by the keeper, Yamashita. Nearly a sensational goal. Soon after, it’s half time and we’re still at 0-0.

Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson has made a lot of changes at half time. It’s easier to just say who is on now than go through the replacements as it’s almost a new team. He’s obviously having a good look at everyone but also sparing some legs. So now we have Williams, Carpenter, Polkinghorne, Luik, Kennedy, Cooney-Cross, Van Egmond, Logarzo, Gielnik, Fowler, Raso.

Carpenter gets things going with a big run down the right flank but her cross is cleared. Carpenter gets another run into the box but is stopped in front of goal.

Not long after, Japan takes a run down the left and the cross hits Kennedy’s arm. She’s in the box and a penalty kick is awarded to Japan. Mana Iwabuchi steps up to take it. She goes hard, fast and low to the left corner and Williams has no chance. It’s 1-0 Japan.

After the kick off, Fowler gets the ball from a long cross and takes a shot. It floats over the top post harmlessly. Australia are on the attack now and Cooney-Cross takes it right up the midfield and passes to Carpenter on the right who in turn passes to Raso. She picks it up but skies it well over the goal.

Japan get a nice run into goal but the shot is neatly cleared by Polkinghorne.

Japan have a more traditional substitution and Iwabuchi is replaced by Endo. Japan attack again but the shot goes wide to the right of goal. Endo makes an immediate impact with a great strike from just outside the box. It’s high and on target and Williams has to jump up to get a hand to it to tip over the crossbar for the save of the match.

The resulting corner is cleared but Japan get another free kick. The home side get down the left and put in a cross which catches the heel of Kennedy and rebounds back. The resulting shot goes wide.

Back in Australia’s half, Gielnik gets in a tangle and despite slamming the Japanese defender to the ground, she gets a free kick. Cooney-Cross takes it and lobs it to Van Egmond. She takes a shot on goal but it goes to the left.

Gielnik then conjures up an opportunity from a long ball and she’s one on one with the keeper but is offside.

Another long ball is sent into the box by Japan and it floats into Williams hands safely. Raso sends a yet another long ball towards goal and Gielnik is there but can’t connect and it goes out.

We’re back and forth and Japan are soon attacking again. A shot sent across goal is sheparded out by Carpenter. The corner is headed away by Kennedy and cleared by Raso. Shortly after a long ball comes through for Japan and brings Williams right out of the box to tackle. Looks like she gets a hand to it so Japan get a free kick at the top of the box. Australia set up a four person wall. Momiki takes it and it hits a Japanese player in the wall and bounces over goal.

The ball is back with Australia and Raso’s cross ends up with Fowler who takes a shot which goes back across the goal and out on the right.

A good cross by Carpenter, who’s run up and down the field all night, is cleared. There’s good pressure at the end but the Japanese defence holds firm and nothing comes of it. The whistle blows and Japan win 1-0.

Defence was solid in both teams but it was a game of a lot of long passes to breach the back lines. The short passing game wasn’t really on target and finishing wasn’t happening either. Still, it’s pleasing not to concede any goals from the field. Three at the back seemed to work OK although it was caught short a couple of times with the long balls. Not sure if it would be as effective against a USA attack but we’ll see soon enough.

Japan have had a couple of big wins lately but this is their first outing against top ten opponent. Japan are in group E with Great Britain, Canada and Chile so won’t have an easy run through the tournament either.

Speaking after the game Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson said: “Japan is one of the most technical teams in the tournament,

“We wanted to press as aggressively as possible, and we did that very well and didn’t let Japan have the ball as much [as normal].

“I do think it was an even game, and when you look at the statistics that shows that evenness.  I said to the players after the game that this is a good reminder of what the [Olympic] tournament is going to be about.

“It’s going to be very, very tight games – very even games.  It is going to take that one moment to win or lose the games.  We have to be there for those moments.” 

Teams: JAPAN: 18 Ayaka Yamashita, 2 Risa Shimizu, 4 Saki Kumagai (captain), 5 Moeka Minami, 7 Emi Nakajima, 8 Narumi Miura, 9 Yuika Sugasawa, 10 Mana Iwabuchi, 13 Yuzuho Shiokoshi, 14 Yui Hasegawa, 16 Asato Miyagama. Subs: 1 Sakiko Ikeda, 3 Saori Takarada, 11 Mina Tanaka, 12 Jun Endo, 15 Yuka Momiki, 17 Nanami Kitamura, 19 Shiori Miyake, 20 Honoka Hayashi, 21 Momoka Kinoshita, 22 Chika Hirao.

Scorer: Iwabuchi (pen) 54.

AUSTRALIA: 18 Tegan Micah, 2 Sam Kerr (captain), 3 Kyra Cooney-Cross, 4 Claire Polkinghorne, 7 Steph Catley, 9 Caitlin Foord, 10 Emily Van Egmond, 12 Ellie Carpenter, 13 Tameka Yallop, 16 Haley Raso, 17 Kyah Simon. Subs: 1 Lydia Williams, 5 Aivi Luik, 6 Chloe Logarzo, 8 Elise Kellond-Knight, 11 Mary Fowler, 14 Alanna Kennedy, 15 Emily Gielnik, 19 Courtney Nevin, 20 Charlotte Grant, 21 Laura Brock, 22 Mackenzie Arnold (GK)

Note, players are listed in numerical order rather than position with the exception of the goalkeepers who are listed first in the starting line-ups.

Referee: Azusa Sugino (JPN)

Attendance: 3,000 (Covid limited crowd), Kyoto.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: