Matildas open Asian Cup with South Korea stalemate

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A scoreless draw to open a major tournament may seem like a strange place to mark the beginning of a new era, but a new frontier this certainly was for Australian Women’s football even if it didn’t quite capture the imagination of those watching in Amman, Jordan or at home.

The moment it sunk in was in the 36th minute when South Korean winger Jan Selgui was shown a yellow card for time wasting. It was a fair reflection of the South Korean output in the first half with defence and disruption the order of the day. The Matildas are no longer the plucky underdogs punching above their weight, they’re the ravenous pitbulls. The big dogs.

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As such we were treated like big dogs with two banks of four Korean players setting up shop and doing barely more than hurry and disturb for 90 minutes. Sam Kerr took 24 minutes to get the match’s opening shot away.

The second half followed much the same pattern as the first albeit with the additions of Kyah Simon and Alanna Kennedy bringing added energy with Simon showing off an impressive standing leap to head straight at the keeper as the half dragged on.

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It was the Melbourne City forward who had the games best chance with but a few frustrating minutes remaining. Steph Catley broke the shackles of the central defensive role she had occupied for the previous 87 minutes and fizzed in a low cross. Kerr leapfrogged the ball and it fell for Simon who stuck out her right foot only to prod the ball over the crossbar with the goalkeeper well beaten.

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The frustration on the faces of the players was there to see as the clocked ticked over to 5am in the Eastern States of Australia and the final whistle was blown in Amman. This is their and our new reality however.

A point against The Matildas is a good point for a side like South Korea, even if they don’t manage a shot on goal over the 90 minutes.

The narrative has been flipped, the hunters now the hunted. Let this brave new world begin.

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