Saturday, May 29, 2010

Matildas, Right Now, You Are Australia

Well it's 12 sleeps 'till the lad and I head on our merry adventure, but just hold the whole World Cup thought for a bit.

Tomorrow evening in Chengdu, China, the Matildas, Australia's most important women's sporting team, will be playing to be the Champions of Asia, against North Korea. It's a grand final. We're there.

In getting there we lost our best striker, Lisa De Vanna, to a broken leg, and she will not be playing for some months. But the semi-final against favourites Japan was won without her, and the team seems to be bursting with talent. All the best Lisa for some rest and a quick recovery.

I won't go on too much about the almost comic book contrast between the two teams, Australia and North Korea, except to just bring it to this brief attention. It is the United States' most loyal ally against the same's most foul foe. I daresay it is the most free country in Asia versus the most oppressive. It is a long-haired, feminine team of joy and friendship versus a Stalinist machine of military-cut girls who look like boys. It is Athens vs Sparta. I guess I couldn't have laid more prejudices into those few lines if I tried, and of course my caracatures are generalised and limited, but if you don't believe my description describes something that every observer is forced to make some sense of, do look for yourselves.

Live tomorrow (Sunday) night from 9.30pm on ABC2.

The Women's Asia Cup is real silverware, the stuff that glistens in the light. It should be glistening in the bright stadia lights held aloft by Melissa Barbieri, the Matildas' captain, brilliant goalkeeper and (arguably) hottest babe (unfortunately married), about this time tomorrow night. May the gods have it be so.

May it not become an icon of the great Leader, the propaganda accessory of a Stalinist State.

The Matildas have had a fair bit of turnover in their squad in the last 12 months and at the same time coach Tom Sermanni has discovered remarkable depth available to him. So it is perfect timing to hit a stride, twelve months away from the Women's World Cup in Germany 2011 (for which they also qualified in making these finals). The 2007 Women's World Cup was one of the highlights of my soccer watching career, and the Matildas exceeded all expectations there, making the semi-finals (I wrote about it here). In 2011, unlike the Socceroos in South Africa 2010, The Matildas will be shooting to win, without any obvious denial of reality. They are true stars for our country, and I love them.

For good articles on the Matildas Asia Cup progress so far, including much better analysis than this, see Fiona Crawford, Merryn Sherwood, Mike Salter and Eamonn Flannagan.

I adore you Matildas. May the good guys win. ;)



Blogger Mike Salter said...

The good guys won!

May 31, 2010 5:28 pm  

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