AFC experience to help girls against Russia
Qantas Young Matildas coach Alistair Edwards believes the experience his girls faced to qualify for the FIFA U/20 Women’s World Championships will work in their favour against Russia in their crucial Group A match in Moscow.
Qantas Young Matildas coach Alistair Edwards believes the experience his girls faced to qualify for the FIFA U/20 Women-s World Championships will work in their favour against Russia in their crucial Group A match in Moscow.
Australia lies a point behind the Russians, who escaped with a 3-2 win against New Zealand, scoring three minutes into injury time. So a win is necessary and Edwards believes the match against Japan at the AFC U/19 Women-s Championship was exactly the same situation faced by the girls, which they came through with flying colours.
“We have been in this situation before at the AFC Championships where we had to beat Japan to qualify for the World Championships,” said Edwards, reflecting on the come from behind 3-2 win over Japan.
“The team rose magnificently to the challenge on that occasion and we will need another display like that from everyone, if we are get past a very good Russian side.”
Edwards has decided to freshen up his side for the all-important clash and has made three changes to his starting side that lost 2-0 against Brazil in its second match. Coming into the starting eleven are striker Servet Uzunlar (for Leena Khamis), plus midfielders Amy Jackson and Amy Chapman who come in for experienced duo Kylie Ledbrook and Leah Blayney.
The starting line-up is: Lydia Williams (gk); Clare Polkinghorne, Kim Carroll, Danielle Brogan, Collette McCallum, Olivia Kennedy, Amy Chapman, Sally Shipard, Amy Jackson, Servet Uzunlar, Sasha McDonnell
“We are going into the game making three changes to the line-up that started the last two games. We have a good solid squad and Servet Uzunlar, Amy Jackson and Amy Chapman will come into the team for tactical reasons as we look to unsettle the Russians.”
Beating the reigning European Champions though will not be an easy task, despite their close shave against New Zealand, who Australia defeated in their first match by three goals to nil.
In Elana Danilova, Russia possess one of the tournaments stars and was the main reason that they secured the European title. Edwards has no doubt that containing her will be a key to unlocking Russia and grabbing that vital win.
“Russia is heavily reliant on Danilova,” said Edwards. “If we can contain her then we are in with a real good chance. She is an exceptionally gifted player, one of the best female players I have seen.
“Our defence has been excellent and we will need them to maintain their form to provide the solid platform for us to put Russia under real pressure. Danielle Brogan has really come of age in the tournament and will be a real key for us again today.”
Edwards said confidence levels are, despite the difficult circumstances his team face and were further boosted by how well the Kiwi-s played the other night in almost pulling off a draw with the tournament hosts.
“We have had a great win against New Zealand and performed really well against a very good Brazil team. Brazil have commented how difficult a game it was against us and that they are relieved to have got the win, so we are going into this game in high spirits.
“New Zealand were tremendous against Russia and were very unlucky not to get at least a point. Russia started well but seemed to run out of ideas and wilt under the pressure as the game wore on but a moment of brilliance by Danilova at the death got Russia home.”
Edwards knows however that his team must improve in front of goal if its to get past Russia, after they let Brazil off the hook, courtesy of several gilt-edged chances that were missed in the first half.
“We have created a number of clear cut chances in both games we have played and have made teams really work for their chances at the other end. That aspect of our play has been fine however, for us to progress we will need to improve on our decision making in the front third and show a bit more composure in front of goal.
“Russia are European champions so there is no doubt that it is going to be tough but one thing for sure is that Russia know they have a real game on their hands and will have to play extremely well to stop us qualifying for the quarter finals.
“We have a belief in the squad that we can beat them.”