Monday, July 31, 2006

Women's Asian Cup Finals Recap

Geez, I guess I've become a convert to women's soccer! ;) Not just me, I guess but the whole family too. We were all excited about the finals, the kids even more so. We were at the stadium one hour before kickoff but already it was filling up fast with fans. We waited a bit for our friends to join us and found seats near the end of the stands. First thing I noticed was the huge contingent of Chinese fans streaming in and we were smack dab in the middle of them. It was a good thing I had us wear our Australia caps and made sure we didn't wear any red or otherwise we would have been easily confused as part of the Chinese cheering section. In fact, we got a few bewildered looks from many of the Chinese fans around us when we'd suddenly shout "Oi, Oi, Oi!" or "GO AUSTRALIA!". They were probably thinking of us as traitors because we looked Chinese! :D

Anyway, we shouted with the best of them at the cold and windy Hindmarsh stadium, and when Australia kicked goals in the first half, we were up in our seats. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be for us that night as China came roaring back in the second half. Hindmarsh Stadium was a sea of red as the Chinese fans got into the act and drowned out the Aussie cheers. In fact, I think there were probably more people cheering for China than Australia. It was a shame because with a game that was as evenly matched as that one was, the fans would have made all the difference. Don't get me wrong, the Matildas had plenty of good support from the many Australian fans in the stands but the Chinese were just so overwhelming, both in their players and their cheering sections that it made the fightback all that hard.

It would have been great if the final game been more widely publicised. Australian fans could have filled up most of the place but as it stood, it seems that football, especially Women's football still had a long way to go. Nevertheless, it was great fun and the family had a blast. As for the quality of the football, needless to say it was excellent and it was one of the best matches I've seen. To go into penalties in a championship game is exciting and it was just inexperience that got us in the end.

Well, after all that's said and done, the Matildas did the country and themselves proud for that incredible performance yesterday. It was their debut in the Asian Confederation and it was an impressive debut to say the least. Now, Australia have the opportunity to mix it up with the best of Women's football on a regular basis and we will be all the better for it. After spending years dominating the Oceanic Confederation smashing smaller teams like New Guinea and American Samoa, the Matildas and the Soccerroos will now face the best that Asia have to offer and will no doubt improve their skills as they go on.

The Matildas stand 15th in the world in team rankings and to have gone out and played North Korea ( 8th ) and China ( 9th ) to virtual standstills speaks volumes about our team's skills and strengths. In the end, it was experience that proved the decisive factor and with the Matildas, being a very young team, can only improve on that from here on out.

Let's not forget, Australia is into the Women's World Cup next year in Beijing and we can expect big things from them. GO MATILDAS!


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