21/04/2024

Sasha Grove (Image: Football Australia)

Amidst growing criticism over the pitch conditions in the Young Matildas U-20 Asian Cup opener, Sasha Groves is looking forward to the next game.

Criticism is continuing to build following the Young Matildas opening Under-20’s Women’s Asian Cup game against Korea Republic.

Both Australia and Korea Republic were met with challenging conditions due to snow completely covering the field.

Despite an attempt to clear parts of the pitch for both teams, many fans questioned how an international game could be played in such conditions.

However, for Young Matildas midfielder Sasha Grove, it is something that she is not focused on ahead of her side’s next game of the tournament.

“Look, the conditions were something we definitely have not encountered before, but as footballers we pride ourselves on being adaptable,” Grove said following their 2-1 win against Korea Republic.

“If that takes us a half to get stuck in a game, it takes a half. At the end of the day, we’re really good at finishing games strong and making sure that we win by any means possible. So when we got our chances, we got our corners, we took them and we finished them off.

“So it’s always having faith in ourselves and each other with every pass, with everything we do and that’s what helped us win yesterday.”

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A goal from Melbourne City Women’s defender Naomi Thomas-Chinnama helped sealed the deal for Australia who claimed the victory 2-1.

For the Canberra United midfielder, Grove said she is enjoying every moment of her first major tournament.

“[The opening match] was brilliant. So many of us, we’ve been working so hard for the past few months in preparation for this game, and it was brilliant to see everyone get stuck in and get the result after we went down at half time,” she said.

“There’s a lot of determination in this squad, a lot of pride in what we do. So we’re very proud with the way we started the tournament and we’re excited to keep that going for the rest of it.”

The next challenge for Grove and the rest of Australian side will be tonight, where they will take on host nation Uzbekistan.

Whilst she is proud of the efforts shown during Monday’s match, Grove is not interested in focusing on the past but rather the upcoming game.

“Winning is really important and we love the feeling of it. But you know, a tournament is more than a game,” she said.

Grove acknowledged that in order for Australia to continue their winning ways, everybody on the squad will have to step up on the field.

“So we really need to take a step back, take every game one game at a time and really focus as a unit. There’s 23 players in this squad and they all play a role in the successes that we have. So really looking after ourselves and taking care in everything that we do,” she said.

“So that’s gonna be one of the most important things. This is their home country, so every game is a big game for them.

“They’re proud to be here, so we can’t be taking that too lightly moving forward.”

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