Scrappy Loss For Matildas In Opening AFF Clash

Australia U23 0-1 Philippines

by Kieran Yap (4/7/22).

Above: The Matildas U23 side that started today’s game against the senior Philippines side. Photo: Football Australia.

Australia’s Under 23 side lost 1-0 to a determined and organized Philippines side amid torrential rain in Manila.

Sarina Bolden was credited with the goal in the 60th minute. But it may have been an own goal that lopped over Jada Whyman. It was a scrappy defensive moment in a game where both back lines were mostly untroubled.

Australia’s squad was made up from a combination of the Under-20’s Young Matildas side and members of the senior squad that faced Spain and Portugal, although only Charli Grant featured in those matches of the players on the field.

Mackenzie Hawkesby was named alongside her Sydney FC teammates Princess Ibini and Sarah Hunter. Sheridan Gallagher led the line, and Matilda McNamara reunited with ex-Adelaide United teammate and the night’s captain, Grant.

The Philippines started with their strongest available senior squad. Five of the players from the meeting at the Asian Cup in January were in the starting lineup. They may have improved with Oliva McDaniel in goal since then.

It was an open game, even if it looked hectic at times. Australia’s midfield was able to get on the ball and pass it with ease, but time on the ball became a struggle the closer they got to the Philippines’ goal.

Australia’s best effort of the first half came when Grant beat a defender on the right flank and fired a shot at goal that found the side netting.

Up the other end, Whyman was rarely troubled, but neither was McDaniel with the home side defending in numbers.

Above: Jada Whyman, back in goal for the national side against the Philippines. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Football Australia.

The second half saw changes to both sides. The Philippines being given a boost by theirs. Katrina Guillou eventually made way for Isabella Flanigan, but while she was on the pitch, her pace and direct style tested Jamilla Rankin and Winonah Heatley.

The goal came on the hour mark, and it felt unlucky. Whyman leapt back but could not prevent the ball looping over her head from a set-piece that was deflected off Bolden more than directed.

Chelsie Dawber and Daniella Galic were among those brought on by Mel Andreatta to strike back, but although McDaniel began to be tested slightly more, the breakthrough never arrived.

The Philippines goalkeeper was forced into an incredible double save from a Galic shot that was parried into Sheridan Gallagher’s path. Remarkably, she was able to push that second effort away.

It was not the start that Australia would have wanted. But it is an intense week ahead with another four games between now and July 12.

Sarina Bolden may have been credited with the goal, but the real hero of the evening was twitter user @Thai_real who discovered a way for Australian fans to watch.

Despite Football Australia’s best efforts to organize an online feed or local broadcaster, It could not be accomplished in time. The rights for the tournament are currently controlled by the PFF governing body. It is being broadcast on pay-TV networks in the host nation, and viewing arrangements will hopefully become easier.

The matches will not. Australia’s Under 23’s will next face Thailand’s senior squad on Wednesday evening. The familiar foes often give the full-strength Matildas a test and they will be likely to serve up another.

There is likely to be some improvement from the Aussies throughout the tournament. They looked at their most dangerous with overlapping fullbacks, particularly Grant who was busy all evening in her first outing in the armband.  

Above: Sarah Hunter, who started Australia’s first game at the AFF Women’s Championships. Photo: Sydney FC.

Much of the focus since arriving in Manila has been on recovery, particularly for those who arrived from Portugal. With more time together in camp, they should be able to play with more fluidity.

Thailand vs Australia will kick off at 9pm AEST with a broadcaster still to be determined.

Teams: AUSTRALIA U23: Whyman, McNamara, Rankin, Hunter, Heatley, Grant, Hawkesby, Gallagher, Sayer, Ibini, Blissett.

PHILIPPINES: McDaniel, Randle, Sawicki, Long, Bolden, Miclat, Frilles, Madarang, Quezada, Guillou, Cowart.

Attendance: 1,405.

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