Matildas’ worst trait rears its ugly head
IF the Matildas go on to win the AFC Asian Cup they will look back and see the match against Thailand as the biggest lesson they have learnt on the way to becoming No.1 in Asia.
Australia scraping through to the Asian Cup final by the seat of its pants is a display which coach Alen Stajcic should copy and issue to all of the 23 players in the squad to prove a point.
He should also ask his squad this clash turned into a nightmare until Alanna Kennedy's 91st minute equaliser.
Getting past Thailand in a shootout 3-1 after the FIFA-ranked 30th nation scored three out of the four goals in the 2-2 draw should never be scrapped from the library.
For this is the game which taught the Matildas so much more about themselves at this Asian Cup than the draws with Japan and South Korea, the 8-0 Vietnam belting and even the 1-0 win over three-time FIFA women's World Cup champion the US last year.
Every vulnerability the side had hiding beneath the surface came to the fore.
Australia lost its way not because Thailand was brilliant - even though they did put up a good fight - but because the side was intent on forcing an issue which never needed to be done.
It appears at times the Matildas want to win matches within the first minutes.
If it doesn't happen it looks like doubt starts setting in and second guessing also rears its ugly head as witnessed at King Abdullah II Stadium on Wednesday.
Shades of this bad trait were on display against Japan and South Korea and even Vietnam.
Football is game of patience and the Matildas have to learn that attribute about its game because now they're no longer underdogs that need to take big risks to beat opponents.
They must put their foot on the gas to choke rivals when everything is right, like players are in position, the zones are compact and all the openings are covered just in case the ball gets stolen or is lost.
Australia too many times didn't so this and were caught in transition trying to force Thailand on the back foot when what was needed was to keep the ball in safe areas and waiting for the right moment to penetrate.
The Thais were content to sit deep whereas moving the ball sideways, keeping it and trying to draw the underdogs out of position to invite two on one player situations may have been better options.
Also the speed of ball delivery was far too slow and the game was sometimes void of leadership.
The injection of Emily van Egmond and Sam Kerr off the bench was game changing when this clash could have been put to bed if the right decisions had been made earlier.
But then again this clash may have also been a blip.
Sometimes the best teams in the world do have bad days but still win games.
Friday's final may prove this theory correct remembering it was Thailand handing Australia a valuable lesson, not Japan or South Korea at this Asian Cup tournament.