The Westfield Junior Matildas’ 2019 AFC U-16 Championship campaign got off to a positive start in Chonburi, Thailand on Sunday with Rae Dower’s youngsters securing a 0-0 draw against Japan.
Australia, who are not only fighting for continental glory in Thailand but also seeking to secure one Asia’s two qualification slots for next year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup at the tournament, put in a solid display against Japan.
For the Westfield Junior Matildas, Sunday’s performance and outcome was a marked improvement on the 5-0 loss that the team suffered against Japan in the same tournament two years ago.
Australia will play their second match of the 2019 AFC U-16 Championship against hosts Thailand on Wednesday, with a positive result enhancing the squad’s chances of progression to the semi-finals of this year’s tournament.
Featured image courtesy of Jen Willmott
Following Sunday’s fixture at the IPE Chonburi Stadium, coach Dower said: “While we're ecstatic with the draw against a very classy Japanese side, we set out to win and get all three points.
“We knew it was going to be the most difficult match to date that this team had played, twelve months to the day since our (qualification) campaign started in the Kyrgyz Republic.
“In saying that, the belief and the positivity shown by the girls was exceptional. They were brave and showed real unity as a team, executing our game plan.
“Japan are the standard bearers at this level with a rich history in women's youth football, both at continental and world tournaments. We have a very healthy respect for them, as we do all our opponents, but we did not fear them.
- Rae Dower
“I thought we pressed them really well and to out possess Japan 58 per cent to 42 per cent just goes to show the development of this group of players.
“We rode our luck a couple of times, but defended resolutely, forcing Japan into some uncharacteristic errors.
“Japan are the standard bearers at this level with a rich history in women's youth football, both at continental and world tournaments. We have a very healthy respect for them, as we do all our opponents, but we did not fear them. Nobody gave us a chance of a result today, except for us. The resolve that the girls showed for 90-plus minutes in pretty oppressive conditions was exceptional and I am just so proud of them.
“The job now is to rest, recover and freshen up for the match against the hosts on Wednesday night. We look forward to an even better team performance and taking another step forward towards our goals,” she said
Westfield Junior Matildas | Match Schedule – 2019 AFC U-16 Women’s Championship
Australia vs Thailand
Date: Wednesday, 18 September 2019
Venue: Chonburi Municipality Stadium, Chonburi, Thailand
Kick-off: 7.00pm (local); 10.00pm (AEST)
Admission: Open to the public
Australia vs Bangladesh
Date: Saturday, 21 September 2019
Venue: IPE Chonburi Stadium, Chonburi, Thailand
Kick-off: 4.00pm (local); 7.00pm (AEST)
Admission: Open to the public