CommBank Young Matildas seal U20 World Cup qualification with 3-0 win against Chinese Taipei

The CommBank Young Matildas have defeated Chinese Taipei 3-0 in the final group stage match of the AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2024™.

Article written by Taryn Heddo via footballaustralia.com.au.

The result, meaning they finished top of the group on nine points out of nine, secured their place in the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup Colombia 2024™. It is the fifth time that Australia has qualified for an U20 Women’s World Cup, and the second since 2006, after appearing in the 2022 edition.

Head Coach Leah Blayney made three changes to the team that defeated Uzbekistan on Wednesday. Kahli Johnson, Claudia Cicco and Zara Kruger came into the starting eleven in place of Alana Murphy, Maddie Caspers, and Lara Gooch.

Australia started the livelier of the two sides. In particular, Western United’s Kahli Johnson proved a constant menace on the left-hand side of the attack.

It was from a corner won by Johnson that the CommBank Young Matildas had their first big chance. A pinpoint delivery from Zara Kruger found the head of Naomi Chinnama, the match winner from game one. Her header was saved onto the underside of the crossbar, and the follow up from Claudia Cicco could only hit teammate Peta Trimis in the resulting scramble.

They had the ball in the back of the net moments later after clever work from Trimis to release Daniela Galic, who squared it to Johnson to tuck away – but Galic was marginally offside.

It was right-back Jessika Nash who would be the one to break the deadlock. A perfectly weighted diagonal ball from Galic found her captain at the back post. The 19-year-old made no mistake from close distance, placing her volley beyond the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

The CommBank Young Matildas continued to apply the pressure throughout the first half. Chinese Taipei showed attacking intent at times, particularly in transitional moments, but were consistently closed down by an alert Australian defence.

Zara Kruger doubled their lead in the 40th minute. A dangerous cross from Johnson beat several defenders as it found its way into the penalty area. Kruger was the player who was able to react first, the Sydney FC midfielder taking a nice touch and placing the ball home with her left foot.

Half-time saw three substitutions for Australia. Milly Boughton, Tegan Bertolissio and Gemma Ferris entered the field of play, meaning that every outfield Young Matilda has seen minutes in this tournament. They replaced Jess Nash, Daniela Galic and Naomi Chinnama.

The game settled into a rhythm in the first part of the second half, with Australia dominating possession and camping in the opposition half, but neither team really creating any clear-cut opportunities.

Georgia Cassidy came onto the pitch for first-half goalscorer Zara Kruger in the 62nd minute, and Indiana Dos Santos joined her in place of Peta Trimis 12 minutes later.

Eventually, the pressure told. Claudia Cicco is mostly seen at right-back at club level, but for Leah Blayney’s side, she has been lining up on the wing. It was her endeavour that forced a corner in the 81st minute, and from the resulting set piece, she was in the right place at the right time to convert to make it three goals for the Young Matildas.

Milly Boughton was a busy presence in the second half, and came agonisingly close to scoring on a number of occasions. At the other end, Alexia Apostalakis was required to show off her pace to quell a couple of dangerous moments in defence.

Despite some late Chinese Taipei chances, Chloe Lincoln was able to kept her second clean sheet of the tournament, and the match ended 3-0. 

The CommBank Young Matildas will play a semi-final on Wednesday against Japan, China or DPR Korea, pending results in the other group.

Australia v 2B
Date: Wednesday, 13 March 2024
Kick-off: 4.00pm (local) / 10.00pm AEDT
Venue: JAR Stadium, Tashkent
Broadcast: 10 Play

Match Details

Australia U-20:  3 (Jessika Nash 20′ Zara Kruger 40′ Claudia Cicco 81′)
Chinese Taipei U-20: 0

Tournament: AFC U-20 Women’s Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2024™
Date: Saturday, 9 March 2024
Venue: Do’stlik Stadium, Tashkent 
Kick-off: 1.00pm (local) / 7.00pm AEDT

Referee: Mahnaz Zokaee (IR Iran)
Assistant Referees: Atena Lashani (IR Iran) & Bahareh Seifinahavandi (IR Iran)
Fourth Official: Koizumi Asaka (Japan)

Australia U-20 XI: 1. Chloe Lincoln (GK), 5. Jessika Nash (C)(3. Bertolissio 46′), 6. Shay Hollman, 10. Daniela Galic (7. Boughton 46′), 11. Kahli Johnson, 13. Peta Trimis (20. I. Dos Santos 74′), 14. Zara Kruger (22. Cassidy 65′), 15. Alexia Apostolakis, 16. Claudia Cicco, 21. Naomi Chinnama (4. Ferris 46′), 23. Sasha Grove

Substitutes not used:  2. Tijan McKenna, 8. Alana Murphy, 9. Jynaya Dos Santos, 12. Tahlia Franco (GK), 17. Madeline Caspers, 18. Grace Wilson, 19. Lara Gooch

Yellow Card: Nil

Red Card: Nil