'Mature' Australia on verge of Olympic berth after Uzbek win

AFP || Shining BD

Published: 2/25/2024 6:50:30 AM

Australia coach Tony Gustavsson praised a "mature" performance by the Matildas after they all-but sealed a place at the Paris Olympics, but said they must be more ruthless in front of goal.

The Australians scored three late goals to down Uzbekistan 3-0 in Tashkent on Saturday in their Asian Olympic qualifying playoff clash ahead of a return leg in Melbourne on Wednesday.

The Matildas, missing injured star striker Sam Kerr, wasted a host of chances before veteran Michelle Heyman, Manchester City's Mary Fowler and Arsenal stalwart Caitlin Foord pounced in the second half.

"We didn't panic and get frustrated from not scoring in the first half," said Gustavsson, who called it a "mature performance".

"But we left way too many goals on the table. Our conversion rate must have been really bad. We could have scored, we left a lot of goals out there.

"That needs to be better on Wednesday."

Heyman's 21st international goal was a special moment for the 35-year-old, who was recalled for her first appearance since 2018 and scored for the first time since the Rio Olympics in 2016.

"Back playing for my country, to come on and score a goal, it's a dream come true," she said.

In the other Asian play-off, North Korea and Japan drew 0-0 ahead of the return leg in Tokyo.

Shining BD