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Preview - Matchday Three: Group A


Chonburi: Australia head coach Leah Blayney believes her side are gathering momentum at just the right time as they prepare to face second-placed Vietnam in a must win Matchday Three Group A encounter at Chonburi Stadium on Saturday.

Currently occupying third spot in the standings, Australia face their Southeast Asian counterparts knowing that only a win would see them join table-topping DPR Korea in the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019 semi-finals.

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AUSTRALIA v VIETNAM

After losing their opening fixture to DPR Korea, Australia bounced back to beat host nation Thailand 3-1 on Matchday Two and reignite their title challenge in Chonburi.

Mary Fowler’s first-half brace and a Courtney Nevin free-kick helped secure the vital three-point haul, one which has set up a fascinating weekend showdown with Vietnam who currently lead the Young Matildas on goal difference alone.

While a draw would be enough to send the Vietnamese through, Blayney is convinced that her charges have even more to offer following a distinctly impressive performance last time out.

“We are absolutely gathering momentum. We are in a position where we are able to rotate players, to use the depth of the squad and players who all add quality on the field,” declared the Katoomba native who took charge of the Young Matildas in July.

“In terms of momentum, moving forward in the game we had against Thailand and the next one against Vietnam is certainly how we want to progress.”

Group B: Australia vs Thailand

Despite the do-or-die nature of Australia’s clash with Vietnam, Blayney is adamant that both she and her rising stars are relishing the prospect.

“From day one I have always been transparent about respecting all of our opponents and taking each game as it comes,” she said.

“We are certainly looking forward to the next challenge in this tournament which is Vietnam.”

Meanwhile, head coach Akira Ijiri is urging his Vietnam side to give their all as they look to dash Australian hopes and advance to the knockout phase themselves.

“We came here to challenge the best in Asia and we hope to improve in our next match against Australia. Hopefully we will have enough points to reach the next round,” he explained.

“I think Australia are a strong unit but we will make sure we deliver a strong performance to get all three points.”

AUSTRALIA v VIETNAM
IPE Chonburi Stadium, 16:00 (UTC+7)

THAILAND v DPR KOREA

DPR Korea head coach Son Sung-gwon is approaching Saturday’s game against host nation Thailand with a degree of caution despite his side already being through to the semi-finals.

The Koreans have excelled thus far, following up a convincing 5-1 win over Australia on Matchday One with a 3-0 defeat of Vietnam last time out – results that have left them guaranteed to finish top of the Group A standings.

Group A: Vietnam vs DPR Korea

However, Son is adamant that there is no room for complacency as the impressive East Asians continue their hunt for a second AFC U-19 Women’s Championship title and a place at next year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

“The game against Thailand will not be an easy one,” said Son.

“We will have to approach the game with caution. We must ensure that we get our tactics right and that they are, in turn, executed by the players effectively.”

Despite entering Saturday’s match with Thailand as overwhelming favourites, Son, who hinted at making wholesale changes for the game, is looking for his charges to dig even deeper when they face the Southeast Asians.

“We will approach the match with the condition of the players in mind, and having established a sound game plan which will see us come out on top,” he declared.

“We must, though, work harder in our next game against Thailand.”

Opposite number Arun Tulwattanangkul, meanwhile, has revealed that Thailand will give their all when they run out for the Matchday Three encounter at the Chonburi Stadium.

Defeats to Vietnam and, most recently, Australia have confirmed the host nation’s exit, but Tulwattanangkul is adamant that his young squad are not about to throw in the towel at a tournament which he believes has provided an ideal learning curve for his aspiring stars.

“We are of course disappointed to be in this position, but there is no doubt that we will give 100 percent against DPR Korea. We are wearing the national shirt, we have to do our best for our country,” he said.

“Some of my players are still not 19, and we have seven players who are under 17. They will learn and they have gained some great experience from playing in this tournament.”

THAILAND v DPR KOREA
Chonburi Stadium, 16:00 (UTC+7)

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