Australia draw with defending champions
The Qantas Matildas have moved a step closer to qualification for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup following a hard fought scoreless draw against DPR Korea (North Korea) at Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide. The result means that Australia will need only a draw in their final group match against Thailand on Monday to guarantee qualification for the semi f
The Qantas Matildas have moved a step closer to qualification for the 2007 FIFA Women-s World Cup following a hard fought scoreless draw against DPR Korea (North Korea) at Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide.
The result means that Australia will need only a draw in their final group match against Thailand on Monday to guarantee qualification for the semi finals of the AFC Women-s Asian Cup. DPR Korea remain ahead of Australia at the top of Group B on goal difference but face a tough encounter against neighbours Korea Republic in their final outing. Both matches will be played concurrently with the team finishing top of the group to meet the runner-up in Group A which is currently headed by Japan who remain ahead of China on goal difference.
In a high intensity encounter Australia started strongly making an number of early forays into the opposition penalty area before the 7th-ranked nation in the world slowly started to come into the match.
Perhaps the best chance of the first half for the home side saw Sarah Walsh latch onto a long ball and out sprint the defence only to see her shot from an acute angle pushed around the post by the goalkeeper.
The visitors came alive as the half wore and four minutes from the interval a deep cross from the left found Un Gyong Ri at the far post whose powerfully hit strike smashed against the frame of the goal.
Kyong Sun Pak appeared to have broken the deadlock deep into first half injury time but, put off by onrushing Australian goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri, the lofted shot lacked power or accuracy and Kate McShea was able to clear the ball to safety.
Once again the Australians started the half brightly and three minutes after the break saw possibly the best opportunity for the home side to score. Kate Gill deflecting Heather Garriock-s perfectly weighted free kick towards goal only for the Korean goalkeeper to grasp the ball from near point-blank range.
The match continued to be fast paced throughout with both teams taking every opportunity to advance downfield. The Australian defensive quartet of Dianne Alagich, Cheryl Salisbury, McShea and Garriock impressive, battling their way through a physical 90 minutes of football. Captain Salisbury led the way and at game's end was sporting a heavily swollen eye as a result of a first half clash, while Alagich also bravely saw out the match despite knocks to a broken nose sustained last weekend.
In the centre of the park, midfielders Collette McCallum, Joanne Peters and Sally Shipard collectively covered countless kilometers as the match continued with end-to-end action.
Barbieri produced a smart one-handed save with ten minutes remaining, while a volley from substitute Lisa De Vanna narrowly cleared the crossbar with virtually the last kick of a rousing match.
“I was delighted with the way all the players went about their task tonight,” said Qantas Matildas coach Tom Sermanni. "Also delighted with the result as North Korea are a very very good side."
“I though the game was of a very high standard and both teams gave everything possible.
"It was a terrific result for us and another clean sheet which is good and it is certainly a great position for us to be in going into the last game.
“There is a sense around the team that the players are confident and are up for it. You get the feeling that if someone is going to beat us they are going to have to work very hard to do so.”
Aside from host nation China the top two nations in the tournament will qualify for the 2007 FIFA Women-s World Cup while the third-placed team will play-off against the third best team in CONCACAF.
The Korean Republic defeated Myanmar 3-1 in the earlier Group B match played today.
Australia 0 DPR Korea 0
Australian line-up: Melissa Barbieri (gk); Dianne Alagich, Kate McShea, Cheryl Salisbury, Heather Garriock; Sally Shipard, Joanne Peters, Collette McCallum; Caitlin Munoz (Alicia Ferguson 78-), Kate Gill (Thea Slatyer 91-), Sarah Walsh (Lisa De Vanna 77-) Unused substitutes: Lydia Williams (gk), Karla Reuter, Rhian Davies, Kylie Ledbrook, Joanne Burgess, Leah Blayney
Referee: Mayumi Oiwa (Japan)
Group B Table (Goals for-against)
DPR Korea 7 pts (12-0) Australia 7 pts (6-0) Korea Republic 6 (14-5) Thailand 3 points (2-21) Myanmar 0 (2-10)
Sunday 23 July - Group A China v Japan - Hindmarsh Stadium @ 14:30 Chinese Taipei v Vietnam - Marden Stadium @ 14:30
All First round Tickets:
Adults - $5; 16 and under - free.
Tickets available at the gate or from VenueTix
Further Qantas Matildas information including player profiles is available at the following link:- Matildas Player Profiles
Further tournament information is available at the AFC tournament website:- www.afc.com