Relentless Westfield Matildas impress Milicic in Chinese Taipei rout
Head coach Ante Milicic praised the Westfield Matildas’ concentration and application after Australia passed their first Olympic qualifying test against Chinese Taipei with flying colours.
Caitlin Foord’s first-half hat-trick and Steph Catley’s strike had the home team four goals up at the break in Sydney as the Green and Gold kick-started Tokyo 2020 qualifying in style.
Second-half goals from Hayley Raso and substitutes Sam Kerr and Katrina Gorry wrapped up a 7-0 win at a rain-drenched Campbelltown Stadium, ahead of further clashes against Thailand and China PR over the next six days.
With the 2020 AFC Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament re-routed through the Harbour City, the schedule changes forced the Westfield Matildas to be agile with their preparations. But Milicic saw no signs of distractions after his charges delivered a smooth start on the road to Tokyo 2020.
“When you train for an extended period, you’ve got to keep the group focused and you never really know how that first game is going to go against this type of opponent,” Milicic said.
“With the preparation we’ve done, has been very good and I’m just pleased that the tournament got under way for us.
“It was a win with a clean sheet, [we] created a lot of chances and the match minutes for the girls is very important with the next two games coming in short succession.”
Following the unconventional build-up to the competition, Milicic admits Chinese Taipei sprung a surprise with their tactical approach, which served another test for the Westfield Matildas.
“They started the game in a different formation, they went away from their usual set-up,” Milicic added.
“With a 5-4-1 block it’s easy to get frustrated, it’s rainy, you know the score from the other game, we hadn’t played a game in two-and-a-half weeks, Sammy [Kerr] not starting - there can always be little things that cross players’ minds.
“The important thing for us and the message was to keep playing. You don’t have to score in the first five minutes, keep shifting and keep working them.
“We know that they only changed their goalkeeper, they had the same 10 players starting and we believe that we would create our openings and we did.
“I was pleased that we went in at half-time with a good lead but second half we didn’t stop. We wanted to build on that and we did so overall I’m very pleased.”
Next up for Australia is an encounter against FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 outfit Thailand, who fell 6-1 to China PR in Friday’s curtain raiser ahead of the Westfield Matildas' opening match.
Milicic watched the first 45 minutes on the bus from the hotel and the second half in the stands at Campbelltown Stadium, and he insists the Green and Gold will need to play even better on Monday to keep their Olympics dreams on track.
“One thing I will say about Thailand is it’s easy to say they have lost two, how are they going to approach it?,” he said.
“But in the end, it’s a team that’s played at the World Cup. It’s a team that less than two years ago, took our side to a penalty shootout, that we drew with after 120 minutes.
“We won’t be complacent against that kind of opposition. It’s up to us now to back up this display and put it in again in the same way that we approached this game…”
“We have to be as ruthless as we were [on Friday] and hopefully that will set us up nicely for the China game.”
Matchday 3 – Monday 10 February 2020
Campbelltown Stadium, Leumeah
- Chinese Taipei v China PR – 4.30pm AEDT
- Thailand v Australia – 7.30pm AEDT
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Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, and the My Football Live App – delayed on ABC TV
International viewers: Live streamed via My Football YouTube channel
Matchday 4 – Thursday 13 February 2020
Western Sydney Stadium, Parramatta
- Australia v China PR – 7.30pm AEDT
Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, and the My Football Live App – delayed on ABC TV.
International viewers - Live streamed via My Football YouTube channel