Coach Alen Stajcic admitted his young Matildas need to mature if they are to challenge for the big titles after exiting the Women’s World Cup with a 1-0 loss to Japan. A late goal from substitute Mana Iwabuchi put the defending champions through to a meeting in Edmonton next Wednesday with England, who beat hosts Canada 2-1 in Vancouver. “There’s not much you can say after a match like that, it’s too soon,” said a disappointed Stajcic. “All you can do is put your arm around their shoulder, most of them are young players, it’s a heartbreaking experience for all of us.” The former Sydney FC W-League coach stepped in after his predecessor Hesterine de Reus was sacked in April 2014 following a player revolt. The 41-year-old guided Australia to the Asian Cup final just a month later, where they lost 1-0 to Japan. But he admitted the gulf between his 10th-ranked side and fourth-ranked Japan on the pitch at […]

The Women’s World Cup heats up this weekend with Australia challenging holders Japan and hosts Canada up against England in the quarter-finals. The rerun of last year’s Asian Cup final at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium will see temperatures of 31 degrees celsius, with the heat at ground level set to swell closer to 50 degrees celsius due to the synthetic playing surface. Canada will then go head-to-head with England in Vancouver’s BC Stadium later Saturday, where west coast temperatures are also soaring. But Australia coach Alen Stajcic believes his young side, ranked 10th, can cool the spirits of fourth-ranked Japan, a team the Matildas have played often. “We played Japan twice in the Asian Cup and we fought back to 2-2 in the first game,” he said. “They played us in the final and they managed to beat us 1-0 on a set piece. “We’ve got a big assignment on our hands. We’re up against a very good team, but we’ve […]

Defending Champions Japan gave newcomers the Netherlands a lesson in football on Tuesday, winning 2-1 to advance to a last-eight showdown with Australia at the Women’s World Cup. Saori Ariyoshi and Mizuho Sakaguchi scored in either half for the defending champions who are the only team left in Canada to have won all their matches. Kirsten Van de Ven headed in a consolation goal for the 12th-ranked Dutch in injury time, helped by an error from Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori, who let the ball slip from her grasp. But the game in Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium was mostly one-way traffic in favour of the Japanese, who have mastered the speed provided by artificial turf being used for the first time at a World Cup. “It’s the best way to improve, a good team will learn a lot from this match,” said Dutch coach Roger Reijners. “You’re playing against the top in the world and things are moving really fast. It’s an enormous […]

A second-half goal from substitute Kyah Simon put Australia through to the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup on Sunday at the expense of star-studded Brazil. Simon, 23, got the breakthrough after 80 minutes in wet and windy conditions in Moncton against the 2007 runners-up captained by former five-time world player of the year Marta. “I think exhilarating is the word for such a victory against a big, powerful football nation,” said coach Alen Stajcic of Australia’s first win in a knockout round at the World Cup. “Brazil had a couple of chances but overall I thought we deserved to win. “We are probably one of the most dangerous teams in the World Cup if not the most dangerous,” he warned. “But we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We’re still halfway through, it’s back to work tomorrow.” Both teams fought to break through in a tight first half with Marta, Andressina and Formiga all missing the target for […]