Tuesday, 26 November 2013 8:37 AM
Westfield Matildas coach Hesterine de Reus says she was delighted with her team’s performance in Sunday’s 2-0 victory over China in Wollongong.
First-half goals from Katrina Gorry and Tameka Butt were enough for the Westfield Matildas to kick-start the two-match series with a win.
The Aussies looked stronger than their opponents by the end of the contest though they were unable to build further upon the scoreline, despite several near misses.
De Reus hailed her team’s performance against the 16th ranked side, reversing the result against the same opponent when the pair last met.
“I’m happy with the result, happy with the attitude – they really came to win and they did it – and happy with the performance,” de Reus said.
“I thought China were great in their short-combination play which gave us some trouble. We kept our areas well and were really good in our counter-attack.
“We created some fantastic opportunities, scored two great goals and were really effective in the way we played.
‘We didn’t expect China to press so high. Complement to the girls, that even though we didn’t prepare our sessions around that (high pressing), we started to build up (from the back) and Clare (Polkinghorne) was important in dropping and encouraging the team to build from the back.”
Westfield Matildas captain Clare Polkinghorne, who turned in a typically resolute performance in the heart of the defence, said the amount of goalscoring chances created was pleasing.
“We gained a lot of confidence from the first half performance,” she said. “Everyone got stuck in and we were winning a lot of ball.
“We scored a couple of good goals, and in the end we are maybe a little disappointed we didn’t score a couple more. We did create a few chances and that is promising.
“We have had a few good sessions leading up. Everyone has been looking sharp and aggressive in training, and I think we took that out onto the pitch.”
Australia were hamstrung by the loss of four players to injury and illness in the 48 hours prior to the match. Co-captain Kate Gill, full-back Teigen Allen, midfielder Nicola Bolger and goalkeeper Brianna Davey were all ruled out. Coming into the squad at short notice were Collette McCallum, Chloe Logarzo, Emma Checker and young goalkeeper Eliza Campbell.
De Reus said the squad dealt with the late disruption admirably. “I think it is (disruptive),” she said. “I think it affects the dynamic (in camp). But I think they handled it really well.”
The medium-term goal is retaining the continental crown at next year’s AFC Asian Women’s Cup in Vietnam, and with it qualification for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.
De Reus say the foundations are firmly in place for the team’s preparations ahead of tackling Asia’s best in six months time.
“I think conditioning wise we are still not where we want to be. But I’m very happy with the matches we have coming up.
“This is a good benchmark playing against an Asian team, and we have all the pieces together to make a good preparation for the Asian Cup.”