Thailand defeat CommBank Junior Matildas 3-1 in final group stage game of the AFC U17 Women’s Asian Cup

The CommBank Junior Matildas have finished their AFC U17 Women’s Asian Cup 2024™ campaign with a 3-1 defeat against Thailand in the third and final group stage match.

Head coach Rae Dower made two changes to the starting side that took on Japan on Friday, with Sian Dewey and Lily Punch replacing Ruby Cuthbert and Sienna Dale. Dale and Chloe Parker were not available for selection due to injuries sustained in previous group-stage games.

Thailand started on the attack early – in fact, they had a fantastic opportunity right from kickoff that was hit just wide – but the Junior Matildas soon settled into the match.

Kiera Meyers was a constant livewire out wide and a creative force for the side. Her cross in the 24th minute found Talia Younis in the box, who wasn’t able to control the ball and get a shot away.

Tiana Fuller was also lively, shooting just high and wide minutes before forcing a spectacular save from Thai goalkeeper Benyapa Singsai.

Australia found the breakthrough at the 30th-minute mark. After a cross from Alvina Khoshaba, Talia Younis’ header hit the crossbar – and Indiana Dos Santos’ follow-up hit the post as well. Finally, the ball found the feet of Lily Punch, who was able to slot it home at the first time of asking.

However, it wouldn’t be long before Thailand equalised. Kurisara Limpawanich picked up the ball on the halfway line and burst through the defence, ending up one-on-one with Junior Matildas goalkeeper Caoimhe Bray. She made no mistake with the keeper and made it 1-1 at half-time.

The half-time stats showed even possession, but far more shots to Australia – 14 to 3. Importantly, though, Thailand had taken their opportunity, and their clinical finishing would continue in the second half.

Direct free-kick goals are always impressive, but the goal to give Thailand the lead was a stunner. Rinyaphat Moondong lined up the set piece from just outside the penalty area in the 67th minute and curled it perfectly around the wall, squeezing into the bottom corner of Australia’s net.

The Junior Matildas pushed hard for an equaliser, as players kept forward and attempted to put pressure on the Thai goal.

The commitment of numbers forward by Australia led to Thailand’s third deep in stoppage time. The ball came out to Rinyaphat, who charged up the pitch and squared it perfectly to the substitute Chutikan Kitikhun to tuck it away and seal the victory for her side.

The match marks the end of the tournament for the CommBank Junior Matildas. They will be disappointed with the results, but the young players will walk away with plenty of lessons to take with them into their careers.

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