The Matildas are Tokyo bound after successfully completing their two-legged qualification tie against Vietnam on Wednesday evening with a 2-1 win at an empty Cam Pha stadium in Vietnam. It follows their 5-0 win in the first leg in Newcastle the previous week, giving them a 7-1 aggregate win.
Wednesday’s match at times resembled a training match more than a significant Olympic Games qualifier with the players’ and coaches’ voices echoing throughout an empty stadium. After a disrupted opening due to a power failure, the match resumed after a 20-minute delay, and the Matildas settled into the match eventually dominating possession and pegging the Vietnamese deep in their own half. Two goals within the opening half hour put the visitors in control. Matilda’s forward Sam Kerr volleyed home a Steph Catley cross for the opener and then Kerr provided the assist for winger Haley Raso to score with an easy tap in just 11 minutes later.
Midfielder Chloe Logarzo then had her penalty kick saved by Vietnam’s keeper. For the remainder of the match, the Matildas were unable to make the most of their dominance of possession. Whilst they were able to get into the final third regularly, they sometimes made the wrong decisions, or lacked the clinical finish to punish their opponents. A moment of sloppiness in defence also gifted Vietnam their first ever goal against the Matildas when Alanna Kennedy’s weak back pass sold keeper Lydia Williams short allowing striker Huynh Nhu to score with a well taken first time lob from 25 metres.
The result means the Matildas qualify for the Olympics for the fourth time. It will also be the first time in 16 years when both the Matildas and the Olyroos will be going to the Olympics.
The Matildas reached the quarter finals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where they bowed out in a penalty shoot- out against hosts Brazil. They’ll be striving to go beyond the quarter finals in Tokyo.
The Matildas are scheduled to travel to the US and Canada in April to play a match against each of those countries in preparation for the Olympics.