Proud Stajcic pays tribute to Westfield Matildas after Japan defeat

Westfield Matildas coach Alen Stajcic believes Australia’s performance in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Final was their best of the tournament despite suffering a 1-0 loss to Japan.

Australia dominated large periods of the Final in Amman but were made to pay for their wasteful finishing with Japanese substitute Kumi Yokoyama netting the decisive goal in the final 10 minutes.

READ: Matildas fall to Japan in AFC Women's Asian Cup Final

The Matildas had earlier spurned a golden chance with Elise Kellond-Knight failing to convert from the penalty spot, while Emily van Egmond struck the crossbar with a long-range strike.

While the result didn’t go to plan, Stajcic was pleased with his side’s overall performance.

“I thought that was our best performance of the tournament. It’s probably the best we’ve played in quite a long time,” Stajcic said at the post-match press conference.

“Unfortunately we didn’t get the rewards tonight that probably the performance justified.

“It’s almost the exact opposite to the Semi-Final (against Thailand) where we didn’t play our best and got a winner.

“But tonight I thought the performance was fantastic. All the players dominated within their positions, wherever that was.  The back four, the middle three, the front three, we dominated all over the field.

“We created a number of chances but unfortunately we just couldn’t execute on the chance.

“The one or two chances that Japan had, they scored one of them. Unfortunately sometimes football is a cruel game.

“It was a wonderful goal and that was enough to win Japan the competition. I congratulate them on their win – it was a fantastic goal.

“For us, I think [there were] a lot of positives to take away from the match and I couldn’t be any happier or prouder of the way we played today. I thought it was a really good performance.”

The Matildas have lost just two matches in the past two Asian Cups but both of those defeats have come at the hands of Japan, with the Nadeshiko also triumping 1-0 in the 2014 Final.

Stajcic admitted his side have been below their best in this tournament but insists there’s plenty of positives to take away from the campaign.

“We haven’t played our best football at different times. We’ve definitely lacked that cutting edge in the penalty box. [It’s something] we have to improve,” Stajcic said.

“But there’s not one game here that we didn’t dominate. Even the Thailand game where we were poor obviously, we should have won that game as well.

“But the other three group matches we pretty much dominated the entire contest. So there’s a lot of good things to take away.

“But for us we set ourselves the objective of winning this tournament. So I know that on behalf of all the players we’re very disappointed that we didn’t win tonight.

“But football is a cruel game sometimes. We played poorly and won in the Semi-Final and tonight we played well and lost. That’s football.

“It’s cruel but as we all know, you have to score to win. Unfortunately today those couple of little inches that went Japan’s way won them the game.”