AFC Women's Asian Cup analysis: Key lessons from Westfield Matildas' campaign

The Westfield Matildas came away empty-handed from a frustrating AFC Women's Asian Cup in which they struggled to fully get going.

Though impressive in the final, a problem that plagued Australia throughout the tournament came back to cost them in the 1-0 defeat to Japan.

Alen Stajcic will no doubt be eager to address areas of his team's performance as next year's FIFA Women's World Cup in France comes into view.


The obvious takeaway, but perhaps the most difficult to address.

Wayward finishing and clouded decision-making in the final third cost Australia in all but one of their five matches.

Indeed, they managed only three goals in four games either side of the 8-0 crushing of Vietnam.

Emily van Egmond was on target once in that match but it was to be the only goal shared between her, Katrina Gorry and Tameka Butt.

The latter pair are noted for the scoring prowess at Brisbane Roar, so for both to be held to blanks at an event Gorry has previously dominated is an area for improvement.

Should he seek a change in shape, Stajcic will know Kyah Simon's transformation from centre-forward to something more closely resembling a number 10 presents the opportunity for an exciting link-up in behind Sam Kerr.

Kyah Simon
Kyah Simon's changing role could lead to a tweak in midfield.


Intrinsically linked to Australia's unusual profligacy was the way in which opposition teams explicitly set out to stifle them.

Australia's goal rush in 2017 was the product of a lethal counter-attacking system built around the frightening speed of Sam Kerr, Lisa De Vanna and Caitlin Foord.

Japan bore the brunt of it when Kerr ruthlessly exploited a high line and put a hat-trick past them at the Tournament of Nations.

But in Jordan they had clearly learned the lesson, instead opting to sit deep and suffocate the space in behind.

Korea Republic did likewise and the Westfield Matildas are certain to confront similar approaches in France as a newfound level of respect brings with it a fresh set of challenges.

Tameka Butt
Tameka Butt's efforts went unrewarded in the final.


A shape-shifting starting XI seemed to hamper the team's search for form and fluidity.

Injuries both before and during the tournament forced Stajcic into experimentation which he might otherwise have shelved.

And if problems were evident at a continental level, they will only be magnified on the world stage.

Establishing familiarity with a more consistent line-up, as difficult as that can prove amid the demands of a major tournament, is sure to be an objective for the next 12 months.

Steph Catley
Steph Catley's fitness concerns meant she was in and out of the team.