‘Extraordinarily disappointing’ Matildas suffer grim loss

Former Australian footballer Andy Harper has slammed the Matildas after their “extraordinarily disappointing” 5-0 loss to Canada in their first friendly at Starlight Stadium in Langford.

It’s the Matildas’ biggest loss since June 2022, when they went down to Spain 7-0 in another friendly, with Harper worried about the ability of the side to bounce back as the Olympic Games loom.

“Something was achieved, somehow we’ve managed to hang girls out to dry in the driving rain,” Harper said on 10 post-match.

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“What was to be done here with this?”

It was Canada’s Nichelle Prince who starred, booting her side’s first two majors in the opening half, before they continued to dominate after half time.

Australia had just two shots on goal, with only one on target, as they recorded their toughest loss in over a year and a half.

“It’s going to be a tough few days. I don’t understand why we had to go down this path, an extraordinarily disappointing outing,” Harper said.

“I don’t understand why Clare Wheeler couldn’t have played next to Kyra Cooney-Cross, Sarah Hunter couldn’t have played next to Katrina Gorry, to give some sort of stability, some sort of balance.”

Australia managed to stem the bleeding in the final 15 minutes of the match, but it was too little too late.

The Matildas, who had five players with 15 caps or less out there against Canada, did blood some young talent into the experimental side, with Sarah Hunter able to make her debut.

Despite the chance for some young players to have a runaround, Harper stressed the weight of the “missed opportunity” for coach Tony Gustavsson’s side.

“I’m still at a loss, I worry about the opportunity missed for some of these players and the team as it develops,” he said.

Matildas midfielder Clare Wheeler played down the loss, confirming the side has answers and knows what they need to work on before their next match and The Olympics.

“It’s one of our last opportunities before The Olympics,” she said post-match on 10.

“We only have limited time together as a national team, so it’s important that these girls get the opportunity to play against a side like Canada because that’s where the level’s at.

“It is a challenge and it’s something we need to build on, but we’re only going to learn from this going forward.”

Australia face Canada in their second friendly on Wednesday, from 1.30pm (AEDT).

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