Just over five years ago, a brave Australian men’s team played a red-hot Brazilian side in Munich, and should have come away with a result if it wasn’t for some poor finishing. Fast forward the tape to 2011, and on Tuesday night in Moenchengladbach, the Matildas had every opportunity to cause an upset against the South American heavyweights but failed to make the most of their chances.
In the early evening of a balmy summer’s day at the Allianz Arena in 2006, chance after chance was spurned by Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka and Mark Bresciano, before some magic from Adriano and a late strike from Fred sealed all three points for the Samba Stars. Sound familiar?
As Lisa De Vanna and Kyah Simon missed guilt-edged opportunities on Tuesday, it took a lapse of concentration from the Matildas defence and a clinical finish from Rosana to break Australian hearts.
Australia coach Tom Sermanni implemented the perfect game plan on the day, marking the world’s best player Marta with speedy defenders, and pressing up the field to put the Brazilians under pressure. But game plans don’t count for anything if the players up top can’t find the back of the net.
There is no doubting the quality of this Matildas side, and young defender Caitlin Foord was a revelation at right back at just sixteen years of age. It was also positive seeing the girls try to play the ball out of defence, instead of hoofing the ball long from the back.
The signs are positive that Australia can progress out of Group D, but history will show that the majority of teams who lose their opening game fail to progress to the knock-out stages.