The Westfield Young Matildas are into the semi-finals of the 2018 AFF Women’s Championships in Indonesia despite suffering their first defeat of the tournament on Sunday night.
After racking up three big wins in their opening three matches, the young Aussies went down 4-2 against Thailand to finish in second spot in Group A.
It was a hat-trick from Thai star Kanjana Sungngoen – all scored in the space of four second-half minutes – which proved decisive, with all six goals in the match coming after the break.
Silawan Intamee broke the deadlock for early in the second half before Sungngoen stole the show with her quickfire treble.
The Westfield Young Matildas refused to throw in the towel, showing great character to score two late goals through Alex Chidiac and Kyra Cooney-Cross.
Princess Ibini won a penalty late-on, which was converted by Chidiac, before 16-year-old Cooney-Cross latched onto a misplaced pass to round the keeper and calmly finish off for her second goal of the tournament.
The Westfield Young Matildas were then inches away from grabbing a third deep in stoppage-time, with Cooney-Cross’ cross finding Rachel Lowe at the back post but her effort went just wide.
“Last night’s match is why we’re here,” explained Head Coach Leah Blayney.
“We need our Young Matildas to get good international experience and exposure against strong senior national teams like Thailand.
“We had some really pleasing moments during the match and our girls finished the match off strongly which gives us plenty of positives to take into our next two matches in the knockout stages moving forward into the semi-finals.”
All the focus now switches to Wednesday’s semi-final, where the Westfield Matildas will play either Vietnam or Myanmar.
Westfield Young Matildas 2 (Chidiac 86’, Cooney-Cross 90+1')
Thailand 4 (Intamee 50’, Sungngoen 60, 62, 64’)
Sunday, 8 July 2018, Bumi Sriwijaya Stadium, Indonesia
Westfield Young Matildas XI: 1. Jada Mathyssen, 4. Tory Tumeth, 6. Amy Sayer, 7. Princess Ibini, 9. Cortnee Vine, 10. Alexandra Chidiac, 15. Taylor Ray, 16. Mary Fowler, 19. Karly Roestbakken, 21. Courtney Nevin, 22. Larissa Crummer (C)
Substitutes: 2. Emily Grace Hodgson, 3. Rasamee Phonsongkham, 5. Rachel Lowe, 8. Emily Condon, 11. Kaitlyn Torpey, 12. Annalee Sarah Grove, 13. Angelique Hristodoulou, 14. MelindaJ Barbieri, , 17. Bethany Gordon, 18. Morgan Aquino, 20. Kyra Cooney-Cross, 23. Holly McNamara