17/04/2024

The Young Matildas in a training session at the AFC U-20 Women's Asian Cup. Photo Credit: Football Australia

The Young Matildas, having qualified for the U-20 Women’s World Cup after sweeping the group stage at the U-20 Women’s Asian Cup, still have a tough challenge ahead of them.

Leah Blayney’s side will face Japan in the semi-final of the Asian Cup on Wednesday, and the coach is aware of some of the challenges Japan will offer.

“We certainly do our due diligence on all of our opponents and we’re aware of what their strengths are as a squad.

“We’ll be looking forward to putting in a game plan to nullify some of their strengths and bring some of our strengths into the game.

“I think Japan are quite tactically flexible and we’ve seen them take different approaches to different matches.

“It’s why they’re silver medalists at the previous [U-20] World Cup and that’s why they’re the Asian champions. There’s no secrets there.”

Blayney then went on to discuss what the Young Matildas can offer up against the tactical flexibility of Japan.

“In terms of our versatility as a squad and our playing style, we’re proud of how we’ve evolved in the last couple of years with this. It’s something we take pride in.

“It’s a huge occasion for us to come out and show our performances and be at times just as tactically flexible.”

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Blayney also said that Australia is looking forward to the opportunity to face Japan.

“To play in an Asian Cup semi-final and to represent our country is something that is an honour. We relish the opportunity” she said.

With the tournament also doubling as World Cup qualifying, Blayney said that the team has been concerned with the performances throughout the tournament so far, with one eye on the future.

“We know we want to improve on previous outings. We know that we’re building a squad towards a World Cup.

“To be apart of the Asian Football Confederation and play against some teams that are simply world class, it’s something that’s only going to help us in the future develop senior national team players as we’ve seen recently.

“We’ve been quite successful with transitioning Young Matildas into our senior set-up at an early age.”

The Young Matildas AFC U-20 Women’s Asian Cup semi-final match against Japan kicks-off at 10pm AEDT. The match will be broadcast on 10Play.

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