Thu, Apr 19, 8:03am by Head Editor
Date and Time: Saturday April 21, 3am AEST
Venue: Amman International Stadium, Amman, Jordan
TV: Fox Sports
After squeezing past Thailand in a penalty shootout in the semi-final, Australia’s Matildas will now meet 2011 World Cup champion and reigning Asian champions Japan in the final of the Women’s Asian Cup on Saturday (AEST) morning.
The Matildas were far from their best on Wednesday (AEST) morning but the good news is that goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold stepped up in the penalty shootout and of course it had to be Sam Kerr who sealed the green and gold’s spot against arch-rivals Japan in the final, with the winning spot kick.
It was a case of redemption for Arnold, who was the cause of the two Thailand goals. First off, she fumbled a chip from Kanjana Sungngeon that allowed the Thais to level the score at 1-1 and then she bungled a clearance which let Rattikan Thongsombut put the 30th ranked nation into an unlikely lead.
Kerr was rested but when she did take the pitch in the 70th minute, the 2017 Asian Football Confederation women’s player of the year had an immediate impact, and eventually proved to be the difference.
The Perth Glory striker has scored 16 goals in her last 13 games for Australia and with her starting in the line-up, the Aussies look much more dangerous going forward.
Saturday’s decider will be the third straight Asian Cup final appearance for the Matildas, and Alen Stajcic’s charges will be hoping to sit this trophy alongside the one the nation won in 2010.
Japan beat Australia 1-0 in the final of this tournament four years ago but since then Australia have surged up to as high as fourth on the FIFA world rankings, and they now sit in sixth, five spots ahead of Japan.
Since that Asian Cup final defeat, these sides have met four times, with Australia winning twice, Japan once and they met just last week, in Asia’s premier tournament, for a 1-1 draw.
Sportsbet have installed Australia as $1.91 favourites to secure their second Asian Cup trophy, with Japan at $3.40 to defend their title and the draw at $3.60.
The subplot to this one is that an Australian win will add a lot of support to Australia’s bid to host the world’s biggest single women’s team sports event on the planet, the 2023 World Cup.
Suggested Bet: Draw after 90 minutes: $3.60
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