Congratulations to the Matildas. They may not have retained the Asian Cup but they managed to make it to a second consecutive final and played well enough to deserve a draw, but it wasn’t to be. There can be no shame in losing to Japan, who are of course the current World Champions, Olympic silver medallists (Australia did not qualify) and had themselves been losing finalists on four occasions.
What was disappointing with the television coverage was the fact that we simply had the game shown, and at half time highlights of the Matildas semi final victory over South Korea. Where was the pre-match show, half time show or post match show? If this had been the Socceroos there would have been all of these and no amount of ex players giving their opinions on the game in the studio and down on the pitch. So why not the same for the Matildas?
If the Socceroos are afforded such analysis and coverage for meaningless friendly games, why are the Matildas not shown the same respect when they reach the final of a major international tournament? Especially when it is one that they are the current champions of.
The FFA constantly say how the women’s game is growing and their focus is on the women’s game, yet why are they not demanding equal coverage for the women?
Realistically the Matildas are Australia’s best hope of making a World Cup final and even winning it. As stated three years ago this group of women have the talent to match it with the World’s best. All they need is the right funding to enable them to have more camps and more games as a group.
Interim coach Alen Stajic did a great job steering the team to the final. He only took over the role 39 days ago, and maybe proved that he should have had the role when the FFA appointed Heseterine de Reus. Word is that the FFA have been speaking to other potential candidates during the tournament despite saying that “a comprehensive review of the Matildas program, including the Head Coach position, will be conducted after the tournament.” There is no doubt that they would be better off head hunting rather than going down the path that saw de Reus appointed, but it is a little disrespectful to be doing it while your interim replacement is steering the team to the final of the region’s biggest tournament. No doubt all who were approached would now jump at the opportunity.
Hopefully Stajic having achieved World Cup Qualification will be given the chance to take the team to the World Cup in Canada next year. Hopefully he will be given the funding to see the team iron out those issues that let them down in the final. According to the commentary ‘tiredness’ was one, with so many games in quick succession; however to compete at this level this should not be such an issue with the right preparation and support. Secondly keeping possession of the ball, their male counterparts, the Socceroos, are also guilty of giving away cheap possession due to poor passing. This will only improve on both fronts if the team plays together more or has more time in camp together. Compared to many of our Asian counterparts our teams would be brought together for only a quarter of the time their opponents spend in camps. In addition those girls not fortunate to gain a club overseas when the A-League finishes simply do not play enough football to maintain fitness and touch.
This was a performance to be proud of and there is no doubt these girls have the talent to make at least the semi finals of the World Cup next year and after that it becomes anyone’s game. First up a new coach needs to be appointed quickly, and Alen Stajic should be spoken to immediately on his return. Then the planning and preparation starts. Hopefully too we see these successful young ladies given the respect that they deserve and the media coverage to match it. There are plenty more teams playing women’s football than there are netball, so why should their coverage not be on a par with the likes of the Diamonds?
(Incidentally copies of the documentary “No Apologies” charting the journey to the World Cup in 2011 with Aboriginal stars Lydia Williams and Kyah Simon are still on sale. click on “No Apologies” to order).