By Eamonn Flanagan

The loss has effectively ended the Matildas' chances of appearing at the Beijing games.

DPR Korea showed why they are one of the favourites for this year's World Cup in China. Fast, mobile and skilful the Koreans attacked from the start.

Australia made a nervous start to their crucial Olympic qualifier. Playing with three up front, Coach Tom Sermanni clearly wanted to put pressure on the DPR Korean back four but it all nearly went wrong in the fourth minute.

A Korean attack down the right caught out Thea Slatyer and the trip on the Korea forward inside the box looked a clear penalty. Amazingly the ref saw nothing.

The Korean side kept their cool, and their incisive attacking play caused numerous problems for Australia. Cheryl Salisbury was impressive at the heart of the defence, Di Alagich made crucial tackles and Thea Slatyer quickly recovered from her early tackle.

Australia hung in there and slowly attempted to play Jo Burgess and Sarah Walsh into the game. But chances were hard to come by for the Matildas. Korea quickly closed down Katie Gill, Walsh and Burgess. Sally Shipard managed a shot from outside the back and Jo Burgess had perhaps the best opportunity but her finish was weak.

And as Australia pushed forward, Korean began to get more and more space. A great save by keeper Melissa Barbieri and a missed Korean opportunity at the end of the first half kept Australia in the game.

Coach Tom Sermanni would have been happy with the 0-0 score at half-time knowing Australia needed to win.

Australia came out fired up in the second half and had their best spell of play in the first ten minutes.

The exciting Lisa De Vanna, who came on for Jo Peters, lit up the crowd with her dazzling runs. Sarah Walsh curled in a cross with the outside of her foot and Jo Burgess nearly got on the end. Sally Shipard was pushing forward. Suddenly the Matildas were looking threatening.

And then Kate Gill had perhaps the Matildas best chance. The ball broke in the box but Gill saw her shot blaze wide.

But just as the home support were beginning to sense maybe the Matildas could win, The Koreans struck.

Beautiful footwork from Kyong Hwai released the Korean winger and a great cross, to the far post was nodded home by, the scorer of last week’s goals, Kum Suk.

Sermanni made changes. Caitlin Munoz was introduced but the pattern was set.

Kyong Hwai pushed forward again and cracked a 20-yard shot past Melissa Berbieri in the Australian goal. 2-0 game over.

The Aussies worked until the last whistle but the Korean side had too much class.

Sermanni said, “We had to win, my players were magnificent, but the opposition were incredibly good. They play at a very technical level and have pace all over the field.”

“I thought if we scored the first goal after our good opening spell in the second half we could win. We lost to the better side.”

“There is a big gap between Korea and the rest of the world. We feel we can match any other side in the world. We’ve had good results against everyone else. North Korea live football 24/7 and this gives them an advantage. We feel we can beat anyone else.”

The Matildas have two more Olympic qualifiers to go, but thoughts will now turn to World Cup preparations in China in September.

Match Details:
Australia 0

DPR Korea 2 (Ri Kum Suk 60’, Kim Kyong Hwa 69’)

Australia Line Up: Melissa Barbieri (GK), Kate McShea, Cheryl Salisbury (C), Thea Slatyer, Dianne Alagich; Joanne Peters, Collette McCallum, Sally Shipard (Lauren Colthorpe 80’); Kate Gill (Caitlin Munoz 65’), Joanne Burgess (Lisa De Vanna h/t), Sarah Walsh

Substitutes: Lana Harch, Emma Wirkus (GK), Clare Polkinghorne, Alicia Ferguson

Cautions: McShea 15’, Salisbury 45’

DPR Korea Line-Up: Om Jong Ran, Ho Sun Hui, Kil Son Hui, Ri Un Suk, Ri Kum Suk (C), Ri Un Gyong, Sonu Kyong Sun, Kong Hye Ok, Kim Yong Ae (Kim Kyong Hwa 59’), Jon Myong Hui (GK), Song Jong Sun

Substitutes: Phi Un Hui (GK), Kim Ok Sim, Kim Chun Hui, Jong Pok Sim, Hong Myong Gum

Cautions: Song Jong Sun 72’

Referee: Sachiko Baba (Japan)
Assistant Referee 1: Saori Takahashi (Japan)
Assistant Referee 2: Shiho Ayukai (Japan)
Fourth Official: Mariko Iwaki (Japan)