Australia has lost 1-0 to Japan with a second-half penalty in the difference in Kyoto.
Both teams began the game in similar styles, pressing high up the pitch to try and force the other into an error.
Japan’s best chance came from Yuika Sagasaw who tried to chip the ball over Teagan Micah but the Matildas goalkeeper was well-positioned to palm the ball away.
Australia was not allowed much time on the ball in the forward half but fashioned a good chance when Sam Kerr nodded the ball into the path of Caitlin Foord. The Arsenal striker was on target with her half-volley but it was comfortably saved.
Kerr tried to be the creator again when she found space on the left and whipped a ball into the six-yard box. Foord was unable to connect when any touch would have done.
The second half saw six changes to the Matildas lineup, Chloe Logarzo made her return to the team and Alanna Kennedy joined the defense, allowing Ellie Carpenter to push up the field.
Neither side looked particularly dangerous in the second half but an unlucky handball against Kennedy gave Japan a penalty that Mana Iwabuchi confidently dispatched.
Despite the efforts of Raso, Fowler, and Carpenter, Australia could not find an equalizer and the winless streak continues with the opening game a week away.
Australia need to take their chances
The Matildas had 11 attempts on goal against Japan, an improvement on previous matches but Tony Gustavsson expressed some concern that only one shot was on target.
“I think that’s where we failed a little bit tonight,” he said post-match.
“There was a lot of technical mistakes (in) the final third and that’s something we need to work on and improve on.
“This is a good reminder of what this tournament is going to be about,” he continued
“It’s going to take that one moment to win or lose the games.”
Carpenter needs to be unleashed
After changing more than half of the team at the break, Ellie Carpenter was pushed wide in a back four. She was composed and dependable when part of a three-player defense but was immediately dangerous when allowed to surge forward
Gustavsson indicated that her role would depend on the situation and the opponent.
“We want to be tactically flexible and use Ellie and Steph (Catley) in those two different positions depending on the opponents, depending on what tactics we have,” he said of his star full-backs.
Carpenter has the ability to play primarily defensively but her ability to run at defenders and cross the ball can put the opposition on the back foot. If Australia is going to create more chances on goal, she is the most obvious solution.
The kids are alright!
Tony Gustavsson has shown that he trusts inexperienced players to make an impact. Kyra Cooney-Cross played the entire match as a central midfielder and Mary Fowler was involved and busy.
Cooney-Cross was confident enough to run with the ball and try her luck from long range in the first half. Fowler almost snatched an instant equalizer with a sharp strike on goal in the second.
“I think these games are really important for those players to get this experience,” said the manager.
“They’re going to get one day better every single day when they are exposed to these types of games.
“No matter who was on the park today…I think it was a clear idea of what we want to do and it was a team performance.
“Even though there was young players and inexperienced players, they looked as a solid team trying to do the same things.”
Women’s International Friendly
Japan 1 – Australia 0
Australia: Teagan Micah (Gk) (Williams 45m), Sam Kerr (Fowler 45m), Kyra Cooney-Cross, Clare Polkinghorne, Steph Catley (Kennedy 45m), Caitlin Foord, (Logarzo 45m,) Emily van Egmond, Ellie Carpenter, Temeka Yallop (Aivi Luik 45m), Hayley Raso, Kyah Simon (Emily Gielnik 45m)
Coach: Tony Gustavsson
Japan: Ayaka Yamashita (GK), Risa Shimizu, Saki Kumagai, Moeka Minami, Asato Miyagawa, Narumi Muira, Yuzuho Shiokoshi, Yui Hasegawa, Yuika Sagasawa, Mana Iwabuchi.
Coach: Asako Takakura