Westfield Young Matildas in good position despite Japan defeat

The Westfield Young Matildas’ hopes of advancing to the knockout stage of the 2017 AFC U19 Women’s Championship in China will go down to the final group stage game after Gary van Egmond’s side lost 5-1 to Japan on Thursday.

Australia took the lead in the first half when Sydney FC’s Westfield W-League ace Remy Siemsen capitalised on an error from Japan’s defence to score her second goal of the tournament.

However, Japan responded in style in the second stanza, netting five unanswered goals to enhance their lead atop Group B.

After Siemsen’s opener Japan levelled the match via Asato Miyagawa in the 51st minute, before captain Honoka Hayashi sent Futoshi Ikeda’s team ahead from range seven minutes later.

Japan extended their lead in the 66th minute via Hinata Miyazawa, before a brace to second half substitute Saori Takarada rounded out the scoring.

The Young Matildas fell to Japan. Image: AFC
The Young Matildas fell to Japan. Image: AFC

Australia will play Vietnam in their final Group Stage game on Sunday while Japan play Korea Republic. As the final 2017 AFC U19 Women’s Championship Group Stage standings are determined on points and head-to-head before goal difference, van Egmond’s team will know that a win over Vietnam by any margin will guarantee them a place in the knockout phase.

From there, the Westfield Young Matildas would play either DPR Korea or hosts China in the semi-final on October 25. A win would take the team to the tournament’s Final three days later, while a loss would see Australia enter the play-off for third/fourth.

The play-off for third/fourth at the 2017 AFC U19 Women’s Championship is a crucial match, as the top three teams at the Championship will advance to the 2018 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in France as Asia’s representatives.

Following Thursday’s fixture, Westfield Young Matildas Head Coach van Egmond shared his thoughts from the match.

“In the beginning we pressed well and we got some outcome from that and we made it difficult for them,” said van Egmond. “But for us to be able to sustain that was very difficult, and Japan started to come into the game as the first half wore on.”

“From a competition level, we just weren’t used to playing a team like that, but you take your hat off to the way they play, and full credit to them.”

“It’s great for our players to play against such an opposition to see what can be achieved from that age group, and for a lot of these girls, they’re in (Westfield) W-League teams, but now they see the standard in Japan and internationally is a lot higher,” concluded van Egmond.

*Images courtesy of the AFC.