In a successful Olympic qualifier held in Perth, the Matildas secured a 2-0 victory against Iran. The match, attended by 18,798 fans, witnessed Ellie Carpenter opening the scoring in the 19th minute, followed by Sam Kerr sealing the win with a tap-in during the 78th minute.
Prior to the match, Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson had emphasized a cautious approach with his jet-lagged stars, opting to keep several key players on the bench, including Mackenzie Arnold, Katrina Gorry, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Caitlin Foord, Stephanie Catley, Hayley Raso, Alanna Kennedy, and Mary Fowler.
With the scoreline at 1-0 by the 65th minute, Gustavsson made a triple substitution, introducing Kerr, Catley, and Fowler, which ultimately led to Australia’s second goal. The trio combined effectively, with Catley providing a low pass for Kerr’s straightforward tap-in.
Despite having 82% possession in the first half, the Matildas initially struggled to convert their opportunities into goals. Cortnee Vine’s well-executed run on the right set up Carpenter’s opening goal. Carpenter had an opportunity for a second goal in the 31st minute but missed the target.
The match also witnessed Iran’s players resorting to time-wasting tactics, causing frustration for the Matildas. Kerr received a warm reception upon entering the game and later capitalized on a goal-scoring opportunity.
In another match, the Philippines came from behind to secure a 4-1 victory over Taiwan, placing them at the top of the group. The Matildas will face the Philippines and Taiwan in their upcoming matches, with the goal of finishing at the top of the group to secure passage to the final round of Olympic qualifying in February.
While the Matildas faced challenges in breaking down deep defensive blocks, the victory marked a solid start to their Olympic qualifying campaign, emphasising the need for tactical adjustments and clinical finishing in upcoming matches.