You know what I said about Gustavsson maybe taking it easy in the preamble? Yeah, not really. The coach makes just one change from the XI that put the Philippines to the sword, with Clare Wheeler coming into the lineup to replace the departed Carpenter.
Australia: Arnold (GK), Cooney-Cross, Wheeler, Catley, Foord, Fowler, Kennedy, Hunt, Raso, Gorry, Kerr
Australia Subs: Williams (GK), Micah (GK), Nevin, Polkinghorne, Chidiac, Yallop, Sayer, Grant
Australia Unavailable: Vine, Carpenter, van Egmond
Taiwan: Ssu-Yu (GK), Chiung-Ying, Li-Ping, Hsiang-Huei (C), Yi-Yun, Yu-Hsuan, Kai Ching, Chia-Ying, Yu-Chieh, Chi, Ying-Hui
Taiwan Subs: Yu-Ting (GK), Fang-Yi (GK), Yu-Ting, Wen-Chieh, Yi-Wen, Shin-Yu, Jin-Wen, Hsiu-Chin, Li-Chin, Fang-Yi, Hsin-Hui, Pi-Han, Chi-Lan
For one last time this international window, it’s a Matildas gameday: Australia against Taiwan in the final game of Group A play in the second phase of AFC Olympic Qualifying at a sold out Perth Oval in West Australia.
If you’re just joining us, this evening’s contest represents something of a dead rubber for both sides – Taiwan already guaranteed to see their campaign end after tonight whereas the Australians have already assuring themselves of progression to the third-and-final phase of qualifying next year following wins over Iran and the Philippines in their opening two fixtures.
In the first of those two games, an experimental XI sent out by Tony Gustavsson found themselves blunted against against the deep low block and, ahem, frequent calling upon of the dark arts by the Iranians in their opening encounter – the 2-0 scoreline significantly blow what would have been expected based on the two side’s resumes. The subsequent fixture against the Filipinas, however, saw a full-strength outfit put their opponents to the sword: running out 8-0 winners with both Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord netting hattricks.
Even accounting for the unheralded nature of the Philippines compared to the strong opposition the Matildas have prioritised in recent years, the performance at a sold-out Optus Stadium was one of the most impressive yet registered under Gustavsson. Showing a willingness to combine through the middle of the park and displaying a freedom of movement and positioning, it was a free flowing and highly entertaining display from the side.
Of course, it takes two to tango and, as mentioned, unfortunately for the Taiwanese, tonight represents something of a last dance. Coach Chan Hiu-Ming’s side has already been eliminated from proceedings following the Philippines win over Iran in the curtain-raiser to tonight’s fixture.
Perhaps fortunately for their slim hopes of taking something from this evening’s game, though, Australia will be missing Ellie Carpenter and Emily van Egmond for tonight’s game after the two were released early to return to their clubs and also without Cortnee Vine after she suffered a hamstring injury against the Philippines. Additionally, Gustavsson is expected to once again rotate his side for this game – Chelsea coach Emma Hayes might try and take out an injunction on him if Kerr picks up another injury on international duty in a dead rubber.
Kick-off: 7pm local, 10pm AEDT