Despite all the brouhaha and constantly darkening storm surrounding the FIFA corruption scandal, the shining beacon of light that represents everything actually good about the organisation is also having its chance to shine.
The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup is underway across Canada, and Australia’s very own Matildas are right in amongst it.
The Aussie national team kicked off their cup campaign in Winnipeg this morning (local time) against the highly fancied USA outfit.
Playing like a team possessed, the Matildas more than took it up to their Yankee rivals, with a succession of outstanding chances from the Australian offence only denied by equally great goalkeeping by the USA’s Hope Solo. The frustration only compounding when an against-the-flow charge forward resulted in a strike from Megan Rapinoe deflected off of Laura Alleway, wrong-footing Australian’s long tenured keeper Melissa Barbieri and cannoning into the net to give the USA a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute.
The lead was short lived, as the Matildas persistence paid off in the 27th, following a period of sustained possession. A timely and unselfish pass from Michelle Heyman allowed captain Lisa De Vanna to strike truly, passing the reach of Solo and slotting the ball in for Australia’s first World Cup goal of this campaign, and levelling the scores at 1 each, where it stayed through till the half time break.
The second half proved about as evenly matched as the first, with the Matildas throwing everything they had at their opponents, only to be denied time and time again by the US defence, with Solo in particular coming up huge. And when the US counterpunched, Australia had no answer. Christen Press‘ clean strike in the 61st minute took the wind out of the Matildas’ sails, and Rapinoe’s second in the 78th broke their backs, with the USA ultimately running out 3-1 over an extremely valient, and perhaps a tad unlucky, Australian outfit, who looked more than up to the challenge.
Australia has drawn a particularly nasty group for the initial stages of the Cup, and faces an uphill battle to progress through to the next round. Our next match is scheduled for Saturday morning local time against Nigeria, before the final match of the group stage follows next Wednesday against the highly ranked Sweden.
Photo: Kevin C. Cox via Getty Images.