The Young Matildas side come together post-game after the loss to Japan in the AFC U-20 Women's Asian Cup semi-finals. Photo Credit: Football Australia

After sweeping the group stage, the Young Matildas were defeated in the semi-finals of the AFC U-20 Women’s Asian Cup by Japan.

The 5-1 defeat saw Japan open the scoring first after a failed clearance from a corner in the third minute, before Australia hit back through Peta Trimis in the 13th minute.

The score would remain at 1-1 until the 63rd minute, when Japan would take the lead, before scoring three goals in the last 10 minutes of play for the 5-1 victory.

Young Matildas goalkeeper Chloe Lincoln described Japan as a “world-class team” in defeat.

“We always knew going into the game that it was going to be really tough,” Lincoln said.

“Japan are a world-class team and to their credit they were on top today.”

Lincoln’s Canberra United team-mate Sasha Grove said that the tournament has been full of highs for the Australians.

“It was absolutely amazing to walk out with all the girls for that game. There’s been so many highs in the tournament so far for us so we we’re really excited to hit the pitch,” Grove said.

“While the result wasn’t what we wanted, there’s still so much for us to be proud of.

“There’s still an opportunity for us to make history as an under-20’s national team for Australia and still clinch some silverware for our next game against South Korea.

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The Young Matildas now turn their attention to the third place game against South Korea, who were defeated 3-0 by North Korea in the other semi-final.

A win would give the Australians a chance to match their best ever finish in the tournament, which was third place in 2006, a 3-2 victory over Japan.

Chloe Lincoln said that while the side will be disappointed with the loss to Japan, but they need to look ahead to the new opportunities ahead.

“Obviously we’ll be disappointed tonight, ride this low tonight, but come tomorrow [it’s a] new day, new opportunities ahead, and we just have to put our focus towards what we can control going forward.

“That’s the Korea game and I think all the girls are really excited to have this match-up against these girls again.

“We would have loved it to be in the gold medal match but it is what it is and we just have to move forward.

“It should be a good opportunity where both teams can really showcase what they can do without the conditions getting in the way hopefully.”

Grove emphasised the importance of losses in football and how that will help them in the game against South Korea.

“Losses are very important in the game of football. It’s where we learn the most,” she said.

“We don’t learn quite as much when we succeed because we’re too happy to notice anything else.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us just to take a step back, review what we did wrong, fix everything that we need to improve on, and really come at South Korea with fire.

“They’re not going to let us win easily, and nor are we them and we’re really excited to get on the pitch and play in some good conditions.”

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