Match Day 4 of the 2016 AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament Final Round concluded and Bruno Bini’s China and Alen Stajcic’s Australia have qualified for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. At the Yanmar Stadium Nagai in Osaka, Wang Shanshan‘s 43rd minute goal was enough to power China to Rio in their 1-0 win over Yoon Duk Yeo’s Korea Republic.
“Korea Republic still had the chance to qualify so they came to play very seriously in this game, not just to watch us play,” said Bini. “In the second half our substitutions were made to prevent their attacks from the side. We sent our attacking players to prevent their attacking. I have a friend who is a tennis coach and one time he told me that you have to learn how to play in a good way and in a bad way.”
— Westfield Matildas (@TheMatildas) March 7, 2016
“I’d like to congratulate today’s winners China. I think they deserved to win. Even though we lost, our players did their best,” said Yoon. “I think both Japan and Korea Republic prepared very well for this tournament, as did all the teams participating. The only thing lacking was results. Japan and Korea both have a bright future and will now change from now, I think. There is no major tournament in the Asian region coming up so perhaps it is a good time to make big changes to the teams in that regard.”
Michelle Heyman opened the scoring 18 minutes in to give Australia a 1-0 lead over Kim Kwang Min’s DPR Korea. Kim Su Gyong equalized in the 78th minute before Katrina Gorry slammed the door shut on 84 minutes to send the Matildas to the Olympics for the first time since Athens 2004.
“This is a night of celebration, it’s one of the great nights of Australian football and I want the whole of Australia to realise just how big an achievement this is,” Stajcic said. “It’s not just the players here but also those back home – we had several girls pick up injuries who couldn’t be with us – and all the staff as well that deserve to take credit for this performance.
“I’ve said all along that our goal is not just to reach Rio but to win a medal and this is the first step in reaching that target. On Wednesday we face China in the final match here and that’s now the next step on the path to an Olympic gold medal. I clearly remember watching that Olympics on TV in the wee hours of the morning when I was coaching a school team in Adelaide and wishing there was more moments like that and now here we are.
— CFAmedia (@CFA) March 7, 2016
“I just don’t have the words to say how big this is. The sheer courage, determination, heart and spirit of this team is something so special. We were a little tense and nervous coming off the two-day break and that perhaps showed but this is just such a special team of players. This is the toughest confederation in the world and I feel that Asia deserves more than two spots, but we’re just so happy to be going and we’ll aim to make all of Asia proud of us and our efforts.”
Finally, in what was essentially a glorified friendly at the Kincho Stadium, Norio Sasaki’s Nadeshiko Japan thrashed Mai Duc Chung’s Golden Girls of Vietnam 6-1. Nahomi Kawasumi (80′), Shinobu Ohno (45′), Emi Nakajima (83′), Mana Iwabuchi (39′), Kumi Yokoyama (90′) and Yuki Ogimi (90′ + 3′) scored for the Nadeshiko, while Huynh Nhu scored in the 42nd minute for Vietnam.
“Our players fought well and tried to play as much as they could, but in the last few minutes we weren’t quite fit enough. In the last 10 minutes we conceded four goals, which is why there was such a big score,” said Mai. “On behalf of our national team I’d like to thank the fans from Vietnam and from Japan. Many of them came to the stadium so I would like to thank them very much.”
“Vietnam really persevered defensively. But we kept our focus right until the last minute and as they changed players and lost a bit of concentration we were able to add to the score,” Sasaki said. “We knew we couldn’t go to Rio but looking further ahead we were aware that this will contribute towards the next World Cup and the Olympics in Tokyo. We can’t go to Rio but for the next three four years we have to prepare well.
“Asian and world women’s football is really changing.”