India’s Predicted XI vs Australia, T20 World Cup Super 8s: Big Decision Awaits Skipper Rohit Sharma | Cricket News




“That’s how we want to play and go forward,” skipper Rohit Sharma looked convinced after India’s swashbuckling show with the bat against Bangladesh. After a 50-run win over the Bangla Tigers on Saturday, India’s batting has nearly joined the party with their bowling, as the likes of Hardik Pandya and Shivam Dube have begun to find the middle of the bat in the ongoing T20 World Cup 2024.

On the other hand, India’s bowling unit led by Jasprit Bumrah has dominated the tournament, picking up a total of 43 wickets so far. Furthermore, the addition of Kuldeep Yadav to the starting XI has pretty much strengthened the team combinations.

Now, with two thumping wins, India have almost set themselves up for a semifinal spot. But, before they proceed further, the Men in Blue are set to face tougher opposition in Australia in their final Super Eight fixture at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in Gros Islet, St. Lucia on June 24.

As India take on Australia, a big decision awaits skipper Rohit Sharma considering the overcast conditions and likelihood of rain in Antigua. Ahead of this mouth-watering contest, let’s have a look at India’s predicted XI against Australia.

India’s Predicted XI vs Australia

Rohit Sharma (c)

Skipper Rohit Sharma’s 97-metre six off Shakib Al Hasan’s bowling meant the Hitman was gearing up for a big one against Bangladesh. But, the opener walked back to the dressing room after an 11-ball 23.

However, Rohit has managed to score 99 runs in five innings at a strike rate of 125.31 in this T20 World Cup, including an unbeaten 52 against Ireland. Rohit has scored 392 runs in 19 innings against Australia in T20Is and would want to continue his dominance over them on Monday.

Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli scoring just 66 runs after five innings in a T20 World Cup is something cricket fans cannot digest easily, knowing that the star batter has won two consecutive Player of the Tournament awards in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

Kohli has struggled in the middle with the bat, especially in the USA leg of the competition. Hopefully, the former skipper has managed 61 runs in the last two matches which were played in the Caribbean and he will be hungry to go after the Aussie bowlers when he faces them in St. Lucia on Monday.

Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper)

A 446-run IPL 2024 campaign for Rishabh Pant made him the first-choice wicketkeeper in India’s starting XI for the T20 World Cup 2024. The star wicketkeeper-batter has fired with the bat in the ongoing T20 tournament, scoring 152 runs in five innings at an average of 38.

The southpaw is currently the highest run-scorer for India in the competition and could be an X-factor against Australia.

Suryakumar Yadav

Back-to-back fifties from Suryakumar Yadav against the USA and Afghanistan, respectively have strengthened India’s middle order in this tournament. His unorthodox approach with the bat at No.4 provides both aggression and stability to India’s batting.

The No.1 T20I batter in the world has scored 118 runs in five innings at a strike rate of 129.67. As India take on Australia on Monday, Indian fans would want SKY to continue his scintillating form against the Aussies as well.

Shivam Dube

The inclusion of Shivam Dube in India’s T20 World Cup 15-member squad did halt Rinku Singh from playing a World Cup game for India. But, Dube’s IPL 2024 campaign caught the attention of the selectors, where he smashed 396 runs in 14 matches at a strike rate of 162.29.

Surprisingly, Dube was also one of the Indian batters who struggled to score runs in the ongoing T20 World Cup. However, the southpaw has managed to score 78 runs in five innings. His form with the bat will be crucial when India take on Australia on Monday.

Hardik Pandya

Hardik Pandya had a forgettable IPL 2024 with Mumbai Indians as a captain and was caught in multiple controversies amid the team’s disappointing campaign. His participation in the T20 World Cup as India’s vice-captain was also a talking point ahead of the ICC event.

Hopefully, the star all-rounder has made one of the epic comebacks, scoring 89 runs in three innings at an impressive strike rate of 141.26 and picking eight wickets with the ball.

Ravindra Jadeja

Star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja hasn’t been the go-to player for India in the ongoing T20 World Cup. However, his all-round capabilities and vast experience at the international circuit cannot be overlooked.

The southpaw has only managed seven runs in two innings and taken just one scalp in the tournament so far. Needless to say, Jadeja will be looking to perform as per his expectations against Australia.

Axar Patel

Bowling all-rounder Axar Patel has made crucial contributions to India’s success in the T20 World Cup, scoring 35 runs in three innings and picking up four wickets.

Axar also had a decent IPL 2024 campaign, taking 11 wickets in 14 matches at an economy of 7.65 for Delhi Capitals. The left-arm spinner has joined hands with the likes of Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav to provide breakthroughs for India and could also prove to be a handy option against Australia with the bat.

Kuldeep Yadav

With 64 wickets in 37 T20Is for India, Kuldeep has turned into one of the best leg spinners in the world. The left-arm chinaman bowler has probably carried his IPL 2024 success to the T20 World Cup by picking up five wickets in just two matches.

He scalped three wickets against Bangladesh in his last appearance in the tournament and can be expected to be amongst the wickets again against Australia.

Jasprit Bumrah

With an excellent economy rate of 3.42 and taking 10 scalps in five matches, Jasprit Bumrah is currently enjoying his best T20 World Cup campaign.

Bumrah was ultimately at his best in the IPL 2024 as well, picking up 20 wickets for Mumbai Indians. He has also led India’s pace battery in this tournament and would like to be among the wickets on Monday when he takes on Australia batters in St. Lucia.

Arshdeep Singh

Left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh has been the wrecker-in-chief for India, especially in the early and closing stages of an innings.

With an economy of 7.05 and 12 wickets, Arshdeep is currently the highest wicket-taker for India in the tournament. The star pacer will be looking to continue his good form against the mighty Aussies on Monday.

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The best banks in the Asia-Pacific region, according to customers

SINGAPORE — Customers in Asia-Pacific have picked their favorite banks as lenders scramble to meet consumer expectations in a fast-changing environment.

After a prolonged period of high inflation — and interest rates — banks in the region are starting to navigate the global trend of lower rates. They’re also facing technological innovation that has the potential to transform the sector, as generative AI gains traction around the world.

Against this backdrop, CNBC and market research firm Statista surveyed 22,000 individuals with a checking or savings account in 14 major economies. The report below — the first of its kind — is designed to highlight the banks that best meet consumer needs in their respective markets.

For the survey, participants evaluated their overall satisfaction with a bank, and whether they would recommend it to others. They also rated each based on five criteria: trust, terms and conditions (such as fees and rates), customer service, digital services and quality of financial advice. Read the full methodology here. The ranking only included banks that qualified according to the criteria described in the report.

See below to see which banks made the list in your location.

Australia

1 ING Group
2 Bank Australia
3 Westpac
4 Ubank
5 NAB
6 Alex Bank
7 Newcastle Permanent Building Society
8 People’s Choice Credit Union
9 Beyond Bank
10 ME
11 Suncorp
12 MyState Bank
13 Australian Military Bank
14 Community First bank
15 Heritage Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

Dutch bank ING came out top in Australia, against a sea of local competition. Like most economies, Australians valued trust the most and were less concerned on the financial advice they were given.

China

1 China Merchants Bank
2 Bank of China
3 ICBC
4 HSBC
5 China Construction Bank
6 Postal Savings Bank of China
7 China Minsheng Bank
8 Standard Chartered
9 SPD Bank
10 Bank of Communications
11 Agricultural Bank of China
12 UBS (China) Limited
13 JPMorgan Chase Bank (China)
14 China Everbright Bank
15 Ping An Bank
16 DBS Bank (China)
17 Bank of Suzhou
18 Bank of Jiangsu
19 Chongqing Rural Commercial Bank
20 Hang Seng Bank
21 Hubei Rural Credit Union Association
22 Huishang Bank
23 East West Bank
24 WeBank
25 Hankou Bank (HKB)

Source: CNBC & Statista

China Merchants Bank, listed in both Shanghai and Hong Kong, earned the top spot in mainland China beating both domestic and foreign players.

Hong Kong

1 China Construction Bank
2 China Minsheng Bank
3 ICBC
4 SPD Bank
5 China Everbright Bank
6 Bank of Communication
7 HSBC
8 CGB
9 Livi Bank
10 China Merchants Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

China Construction Bank, one of China’s four major state-owned banking institutions, was ranked the top lender over foreign players like HSBC.

India

1 ICICI Bank
2 HDFC Bank
3 Axis Bank
4 Kotak Mahindra Bank
5 State Bank of India
6 HSBC
7 Paytm Payments Bank
8 Standard Chartered
9 Federal Bank
10 IndusInd Bank
11 Union Bank of India
12 Karnataka Bank
13 Punjab National Bank
14 Bank of Baroda
15 Bandhan Bank
16 Fincare
17 DSCB
18 Kerala Gramin Bank
19 Fino Payments Bank
20 APCOB
21 Punjab Gramin Bank
22 IDFC First Bank
23 UCO Bank
24 RBLBank
25 New India Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

ICICI bank, a leading private sector bank in India, was the top pick in the country despite strong competition from mostly local lenders.

Indonesia

1 Bank Central Asia
2 Bank Mandiri
3 Sea Bank
4 Jago
5 Raya Bank
6 Bank Negara Indonesia
7 United Overseas Bank
8 PermataBank
9 Cimb Niaga
10 DBS
11 Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI)
12 BNC
13 Bank Muamalat
14 Jenius
15 BCA Syariah
16 HSBC
17 BDP DIY
18 Bank Aceh
19 Standard Chartered
20 Bank Sumsel Babel

Source: CNBC & Statista

Bank Central Asia, Indonesia’s largest private commercial bank, beat the competition to clinch the top spot. Customers valued both trust as well as digital services in their ranking.  

Japan

1 SBI Sumishin Net Bank
2 Rakuten Bank
3 Sony Bank
4 Aeon Bank
5 au Jibun Bank
6 PayPay Bank
7 Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
8 Senshu Ikeda Bank
9 The Juhachi-Shinwa Bank
10 Iyo Bank
11 Ehime Bank
12 Japan Post Bank
13 Ja Bank
14 Kyushu Labor Bank
15 Hamamatsu Iwata Shinkin Bank
16 Keiyo Bank
17 Bank of Fukuoka
18 Shinsei Bank
19 The Nishi-Nippon City Bank
20 Aozora Bank
21 Saitama Resona Bank
22 MUFG Bank
23 Lawson Bank
24 Gunma Bank
25 Hachijuni Bank
26 Rokin Bank
27 Kiyo Bank
28 Tokyo Star Bank
29 The Bank of Okinawa
30 Kyoto Chuo Shinkin Bank
31 Abukuma Shinkin Bank
32 North Pacific Bank
33 Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank
34 Tottori Bank
35 Bank of Kyoto

Source: CNBC & Statista

SBI Sumishin Net Bank, a Japan-based company, managed to beat other domestic lenders to come out top. Japanese citizens valued trust as their most important criteria.

Malaysia

1 Maybank
2 Standard Chartered
3 Maybank Islamic
4 HSBC
5 RHB Islamic Bank
6 Bank Islam
7 AmBank Group Islamic
8 OCBC Bank
9 United Overseas Bank
10 Hong Leong Islamic Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

Maybank, which is the largest bank by market value in Malaysia, was the customers top pick against competition from domestic and foreign lenders.

New Zealand

1 Bank of New Zealand
2 ASB Bank
3 The Co-operative Bank
4 SBS Bank
5 Kiwibank

Source: CNBC & Statista

Bank of New Zealand, one of New Zealand’s big four banks, earned the top spot among consumers who also valued trust as the most important criteria. In some economies, like New Zealand, there are fewer competitors in the market and the size of the banking market differs, thus only five banks made the list.

Philippines

1 Philippine National Bank
2 Union Bank (Philippines)
3 Maya Bank
4 OFBank
5 UnionDigital Bank
6 UNO Digital Bank
7 GoTyme Bank
8 LANDBANK
9 Metrobank
10 BPI

Source: CNBC & Statista

Philippine National Bank, one of the largest banks in the country, earned the top rank against competition from largely local lenders.

Singapore

1 DBS
2 HSBC
3 Citibank
4 Bank of Singapore
5 United Overseas Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

Singapore’s biggest bank DBS beat its domestic peers to clinch the top spot in the city-state. Given the small market size, there are fewer banking competitors as a result only five made the list.

South Korea

1 TossBank
2 KakaoBank
3 Kwangju Bank
4 K bank
5 Jeonbuk Bank
6 KB Kookmin Bank
7 Industrial Bank of Korea
8 DGB Daegu Bank
9 BNK Busan Bank
10 KEB Hana Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

Toss Bank, an internet-only bank based in South Korea, managed to fend off domestic competition to emerge as top lender in the country.

Taiwan

1 E.Sun Financial
2 Bank SinoPac
3 Standard Chartered
4 CTBC Bank
5 Taipei Fubon Bank
6 Taishin International Bank
7 HSBC
8 Rakuten International Commercial Bank
9 Cathay Financial
10 Mega International Commercial Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

Taiwan’s E.Sun Financial, headquartered in Taipei, earned the top ranking with customers focused on trust and less concerned about financial advice.

Thailand

1 Kasikornbank
2 Siam Commercial Bank
3 Bank of Ayudhya
4 United Overseas Bank
5 Krung Thai Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

Kasikornbank bank, Thailand’s second-largest lender, came out top in the country. Only five banks made the list as there are fewer competitors and the size of banking market varies.

Vietnam

1 Techcombank
2 Vietcombank
3 BIDV
4 Military Commercial Joint Stock Bank
5 ACB
6 Vietinbank
7 VIB
8 TPBank
9 Sacombank
10 VP Bank
11 BVBank
12 Shinhan Bank
13 SeA Bank
14 HDBank
15 Ocean Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

Vietnamese private lender Techcombank is the customers’ top pick in the country, where trust again was the key factor for survey respondents.

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#banks #AsiaPacific #region #customers

Matildas draw 1-1 with China after Michelle Heyman’s stoppage-time equaliser

The Matildas’ final preparations for the Paris Olympics have got off to a rusty start after a scrappy 1-1 draw with China in Adelaide on Friday.

Australia’s coach Tony Gustavsson fielded a largely experimental line-up for the opening hour of the Adelaide Oval fixture, but they were upstaged by the reigning Asian Cup champions, with a well-organised and disciplined China keeping the Matildas shotless for the first half.

And while a sell-out 52,912 people had packed in to see the Matildas strut their stuff, they were instead silenced in the 30th minute after Chinese winger Zhang Linyan opened the scoring, volleying home a cross from Central Coast Mariners winger Wurigumula.

But veteran striker Michelle Heyman came to the rescue in stoppage-time of the first half, tapping in from a goal-mouth scramble after a Mary Fowler free kick was fumbled by China’s goalkeeper.

Before the match, Gustavsson said he remained undecided on four spots for the 18-woman squad to contest the Paris Olympics starting in late July. The team’s starting XI reflected his need to test out those peripheral players, beginning without big guns Caitlin Foord, Steph Catley, Ellie Carpenter, Hayley Raso and Kyra Cooney-Cross.

But the team that started the game struggled to break down a tightly-packed Chinese defence, and regularly coughed up possession before being punished by quick transitional counter-attacks.

While the momentum of the game began to swing after five senior players were substituted on in the 60th minute, winger Caitlin Foord lasted just 15 minutes, leaving the field after being felled in a tackle, despite appearing in no great discomfort.

Following a tepid opening 29 minutes, China struck on the half-hour when a fast break down the right flank left Australia’s Kaitlyn Torpey sprawled in the grass after grappling with powerful striker Wurigumula.

As the pair jostled, Torpey slipped and fell to ground — replays showed a slight tug on her jersey from her opponent — while Wurigumula was quick to recover from the contact, her follow-up cross into the box deflected into the path of Zhang, who scored with a reflex right footer.

After half time, Australia showed far greater attacking intent and almost had a reward in the 56th minute when Cortnee Vine swung a cross into the box.

The ball landed near Fowler who was set to pull the trigger and shoot, but advancing China keeper Xu Huan knocked the ball away. Six minutes later, Gustavsson made five substitutions, summoning Catley, Foord, Raso, Carpenter and Kyra Cooney-Cross.

The injection of the Matildas mainstays had instant impact, with the Australians crafting a series of scoring chances through Raso and Fowler, though a scrambling China kept the Matildas scoreless.

But in a bizarre series of events in stoppage time, where Australia won a free kick just outside China’s penalty spot after the goalkeeper slid out to collect an innocuous ball only to hand-ball it and give a set piece away, a powerful striker by Fowler was fumbled by Xu and duly poked home by Heyman.

The Matildas meet China again in Sydney on Monday night and Gustavsson will announce his Olympic squad the following day.

Check out how the game unfolded in our live blog below.

Key events

See you Monday!

I still think Heyman’s (and Fowler’s) issues tonight were more about distribution. They both should be on the plane to Paris. But maybe those in midfield (who aren’t feeding through enough quality ball) should be a bit worried – they need to step up and do better in the next leg.

– Ingrid

I think tonight that those who are already locked in to the Olympic squad are there for a reason…not sure any of the questions Tony had about the remaining four players were really answered tonight

– Tania

I think we’re all on the same page about tonight’s game: the Matildas definitely didn’t show enough against China to convince us of anything, so they’ll really need to step it up in the second match in Sydney on Monday to settle out nerves about their readiness for the Olympics.

We’ll have a match report out shortly, but for now, thanks so much for engaging with the blog tonight, and I’ll see you all again here on Monday night from 7:00pm AEST!

Until then, enjoy your weekend, and gooooo Tillies!!!

So what did you make of that?

Redemption rocks. Phew! Okay, how do you pick an optimal 18 squad out of that? I guess that’s why Tony’s paid the big bucks. More questions than answers, maybe the answers’ll arrive on Monday. Thanks Sam!

– Big Ben

High energy and effort leads to chances and finally a goal. Why did they play so conservatively for the first 88 minutes? Raso showed the way

– Tobi

Matildas lack quality. Any squad with EVE and Polkinghorne hasn’t hope against the new top nations.

– The bill

Great to see Michelle Heyman score at the death to salvage the draw, she’ll definitely be on the plane to Paris in July.

– Adam

What’s the answer? Give them time (and hope Ford’s injury heals)

– Betty

Whenever the Matildas have two-game windows, they do tend to be quite rusty and slow in the first of the two matches. So in that context, tonight’s game isn’t a huge surprise, nor is it a shock given the five changes Tony Gustavsson made to the starting line-up.

And yet… with Paris less than two months away… the Matildas don’t really have time to be this sloppy, do they? They certainly won’t be forgiven for it against the USA, Germany, and Zambia.

But who do you reckon impressed tonight? Did any player convince you that they should go to the Olympics? Or do we need another game to figure it out?

Heyman redemption!

Let the scoreboard show that it was Michelle Heyman who equalised. I won’t hear a bad word said about her! (even if she didn’t have a great game 🙂 ⚽️💚💛

– Leo

michelle heyman doesn’t miss in front of goal! she might not be sam kerr but she should be in paris as a CF.

– alex

– Samantha Lewis

I was literally typing a post about Michelle Heyman’s game tonight, and then she just goes and scores.

Maybe that’s why she goes to Paris: because she can be there right until the very end.

Full time: Australia 1 – 1 China

The commentators curse Sam…Michelle Heyman unseen all night…bobs up in the 95min…extraordinary!

– stumcin

Yeeeeeeesssssssss!!!! 🥳🥳🥳

– Tania

YYYYYYYYY3EEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAASHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

– Natty

FInally!!!!!!

– M

I feel that goal should be given to the china goalkeeper. She put a lot of effort to make australia score

– First

Michelle is back online!!!

– Micko

Geez. Oztraylia. You got damn lucky with that goal at the end! Coulda/shoulda done better. And sooner.

– Ingrid

Whew

– sandye

Hurray

– jag

Just like the last time they played, a stoppage-time equaliser rescues the Matildas after a pretty sluggish display.

Absolute scenes from the sold-out stadium – and from all of you – right at the death!

94′ GOAL AUSTRALIA

MICHELLE HEYMAN EQUALISES AFTER A TRULY BIZARRE SERIES OF EVENTS!

A free kick just outside China’s box was awarded after their goalkeeper came sprinting off her line and seemed to hand-ball it after a miscontrol?

Mary Fowler stood over the ball, sending her rocket of a right foot through the set piece towards the front post, where the keeper isn’t able to catch it and the deflection falls right to the feet of Heyman, who pokes it home.

1-1!

93′ Where are our goals coming from?

The hole left by Sam Kerr’s absence is starting to look bigger and bigger with every minute that goes by tonight!

– stumcin

Hopefully Caitlin Foord doesn’t have a serious injury, this would be disastrous for the Matildas 55 days out from the first game in the Olympics.

– Adam

As I wrote at the start of tonight’s blog, the Matildas really haven’t figured out the answer of how to score goals without Sam Kerr.

As Adam says, this injury to Caitlin Foord is a worry. She was massive for the Tillies during the World Cup when Kerr was unavailable. Mary Fowler’s wobbly form in this game is a concern, as has Michelle Heyman’s kinda-nothing performance.

So what’s the answer?

91′ Chance China!

Another counter-attack from China sees Wu Chengshu through one-on-one with Clare Hunt, who’s backtracking into her own box, trying to hold up the energised substitute.

Chengsu twists and turns and finds a half-space, swinging her foot through the ball, but she doesn’t quite connect and it fizzes into Mackenzie Arnold’s hands.

Five minutes of added time

87′ Hunt gets crunched

A wildly spinning aerial ball from Hayley Raso that deflected off a Chinese player falls dangerously towards the top of the box, where Clare Hunt and substitute Wu Chengshu both race towards it, trying to nick it out of the air and do something.

Hunt is the tallest of the two and is able to head it away in time, but Chengshu barrels straight through the centre-back, sending her crashing into the grass.

There’s a couple words exchanged between the Chinese striker and Steph Catley afterwards as Hunt catches her breath. Not so friendly after all, this.

86′ Big Woman Up Top

I don’t know how you folks feel, but when I see Alanna Kennedy thrown up front into the centre-forward position, that’s when I know that Tony Gustavsson is running out of ideas.

Like, I get it. She’s tall and good in the air. But so is Michelle Heyman. Is this really Plan B if the Matildas are behind during the Olympics?

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85′ China substitutions

Mengwen Li is off for Mengyu Shen.

Shuang Wang Shuang is replaced by Cong Yuan.

And Yanwen Wang is off for Jiali Tang.

82′ Michelle Heyman’s gone missing

Another watcher/reader (Olive) mentioned that Mary Fowler was “struggling to do her Mary magic here”. I wonder if both her and Michelle Heyman are suffering from not being fed enough good balls? Hopefully, the subs will change that and improve distribution.

– Ingrid

Is hayman in her space jam version?

– First

She’s really just been a warm body out there for this second half, hasn’t she? It’s like the game has been happening around her and she’s just kinda been watching from a really awesome front-row seat.

I do think that the build-up play has affected her tonight, though. She barely connected with the two midfielders in the first half, and now is having to deliberately involve herself in plays to try and get anywhere near the ball.

She leaps onto a moment now, spinning on the ball after a China error, and takes a couple charging steps into the box, but just as she tries to shoot, a Chinese defender gets a toe on the ball and it spins into the keeper’s arms.

80′ Chance Australia!

They’re throwing more bodies forward now, trying to overload China’s backline and create a bit of chaos.

Another corner is taken short, with Fowler delivering the ball to the very back of the box, where Hayley Raso nods it back towards the penalty spot.

Kennedy is there, and tries an acrobatic sideways kick, but she doesn’t quite catch it and it spins over the bar.

79′ Not many beliEVErs on the blog tonight

Surprised TG left EVE out there….thoughts?

– Tania

not sure why tony is so keen on emily van egmond? she cannot play as a striker and as a midfielder not anymore effective than clare wheeler or yallop…

– alex

Honestly? I agree. Emily Van Egmond doesn’t seem to have the speed or style that you associate with this high-intensity Matildas team, so it’s odd that she’s played such a pivotal role in the side for so long.

78′ Aaaaaand she misses

Kennedy goes for it, trying to whip the ball up and over China’s wall and into the top corner, but it flies over the crossbar instead.

78′ Matildas win a dangerous free kick

Emily Van Egmond was clipped from behind by a clumsy Chinese player just outside the top of the box.

Steph Catley and Alanna Kennedy are standing over it. China have five players in the wall…

Crowd: 52,912

Hectic. Well done, Adelaide!

76′ Australia substitution

Uh oh.

Caitlin Foord, who came on only 15 minutes ago, goes down in the grass, gesturing towards her hamstring.

A minute later, she walks off the field, replaced by Brisbane Roar winger Sharn Frier.

75′ China substitution

Goal-scorer Zhang Linyan is off for Liu Yanqui.

74′ Chance Australia!

A more characteristic passage from Australia with Ellie Carpenter slotting through the speedy Hayley Raso down the right wing.

She cuts the ball back from the by-line, aiming for the penalty spot, where Mary Fowler is steaming in to meet it.

But Carpenter is there instead, and gets in the way of Fowler’s swing, so she doesn’t quite meet it properly and the ball deflects off a China defender and bounces away up-field instead.

Bugger.

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‘I’m gonna be homeless’: How an Aussie boxer rose from the depths of despair to booking a ticket to the Olympics

Australian boxer Marissa Williamson-Pohlman.()

From on the brink of homelessness to booking a ticket to the Olympics, Marissa Williamson-Pohlman has had to fight tooth and nail for everything she has.

It’s December 2023, and Marissa Williamson-Pohlman is seated across from me in front of a ceiling-high Christmas tree at her house in inner Naarm/Melbourne.

Packed to the brim with decorations, and with presents lining the floor beneath it, the tree is hard to miss.

“We take Christmas very seriously in this weird, blended family,” Williamson-Pohlman says.

“Mum goes hammer and tong for it.”

“I think it’s important,” Williamson-Pohlman’s adoptive mother says.

“It reflects the values of this family. Abject poverty? Don’t know her anymore. This six foot Christmas tree won’t do.”

By Williamson-Pohlman’s own admission, the last three years have signalled a dramatic turnaround in both their personal and boxing life.

(Williamson-Pohlman, who identifies as a queer Blak woman, uses she/they pronouns, and asks me to mix them up throughout the article).

In November last year, she became the first Aboriginal woman to qualify for the Australian Olympic boxing team, due to compete in Paris in July.

Earlier in 2023, the Ngarrindjeri woman made history again as the first to win the coveted Arthur Tunstall trophy for Australia’s best amateur boxer.

After a tumultuous upbringing, and years of mental health struggles, Williamson-Pohlman can scarcely believe how far they’ve come.

This is the story of how a period of much-needed stability turned her life around.

0V1A8724

‘Hey, I’m going to be homeless’

Marissa Williamson (without the Pohlman) was born one of six kids, and describes her biological mother as “mentally unwell”.

“She was self-medicating with drugs and extremely violent,” they say.

By age 13, Williamson-Pohlman was fully ensconced in the foster system.

Over a five-year period, she went through 16 placements, before becoming homeless during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time, Williamson-Pohlman was training out of a gym in Hoppers Crossing, and ended up living above it.

But without a job, they couldn’t afford to pay rent, or eat. Williamson-Pohlman, who normally fights at 66kg, weighed just 57kg.

MWP1
Riss warms up in 2019 before a fight. 
Riss posted this photo to announce their move to the Collingwood gym.
MWP3 (1)
Announced as the winner of their fight, Riss breaks down in a moment they describe as ‘one of the lowest places I’ve been mentally in my life’.()

The gym, which had shut down because of lockdowns, was also getting broken into on multiple occasions.

“[The gym] was an awful place to be,” she recalls.

“There’s a massive Muslim community in Hoppers Crossing, and families were just leaving me food or putting money in my shoes.

“I was stuck in a hard place. I was like, ‘I’ve got literally no contacts, no immediate family, no friends. I’m legitimately f***ed.'”

It was then Williamson-Pohlman picked up the phone to call the person they now call Mum.

The two women had met through the Victorian Aboriginal Child Protection Agency, and later re-connected on social media.

“She took my call straight away,” Willimson-Pohlman says.

“I was like, ‘hey, I’m gonna be homeless’.

“I had like $14 worth of coins, and I just put them into my car and drove to her house. She took me in, and I sort of never left.”

It was then ‘Riss’ decided to take the surname Pohlman, in honour of their adoptive Mum.

“That was three years ago, and the rest is history.”

‘I’d get into fights about literally anything’

Williamson-Pohlman never aspired to be a boxer, which is not to say she wasn’t accustomed to fighting.

They grew up on Wadawurrung country, near Geelong, but due to the ever-changing nature of foster placements, was forced to swap schools regularly.

One particular move, from Manor Lakes to Lara, separated Williamson-Pohlman from a number of good friends.

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Riss used to find herself in fights at school, over ‘literally anything’.()

She begged the school principal to let her come back, but he was reluctant, citing her history of getting into fights.

“I remember him saying ‘I don’t want a violent person in the school,'” Williamson-Pohlman recalls.

He agreed to let Williamson-Pohlman return on a behavioural contract with two conditions: they were to maintain perfect attendance, and not get into any more fights.

Asked what the fights were about, Williamson-Pohlman laughs, before replying: “literally anything”.

The principal also suggested she take up football, as a way to let off some steam, which led to her training with the Geelong Falcons, before being accepted into the state squad.

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Riss playing footy in the middle of 2018.
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A school principal suggested football as a way to blow off some steam.
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Riss said she threw herself into sport and study to keep her out of trouble.()

“I just threw myself into sport and study, because it kept me out of the house and out of trouble, when I easily could’ve dabbled in something else,” they say.

Boxing came into Williamson-Pohlman’s life around the same time. She qualified for a state title, but got into trouble at school in the lead-up, with the principal pulling her out of the fight as a result.

Realising how much they wanted to box, Williamson-Pohlman committed to “staying on track”, accepting an offer to join a boxing tour in New Zealand/Aotearoa, and quitting football.

Getting pulled out of the state title, she says, “taught me life skills”.

“I really had to pull my head in … so I hung up the boots and never looked back,” she says.

Getting their life on track wasn’t a simple case of discipline, however.

“In boxing, you’re not fighting,” she explains.

“It’s about training yourself to stay calm. You’re in a pressure cooker and someone’s trying to knock your head off.

“Your opponent knows how to fight, so you can’t just bully them.

“I was really surprised by the art of it.”

They also found it was impossible to separate boxing from life outside the ring.

The art of staying calm in a fight
The art of staying calm in a fight has been an important lesson to learn.()

“I would run out of adrenaline after the first round of a fight,” she says.

“Basically you’re having a trauma response in the ring, and you really wanna knock your opponent out, but you have to stay really calm.

“I had to learn to train my fight, flight or freeze response.”

Mastering her trauma response, she says, has been a combination of finding the right coach and “tonnes of therapy”.

“I’ve seen a psychologist for almost four years now,” they say.

“And now I’m a massive mental health advocate. I honestly wouldn’t be able to be the person I am today without doing all the work I have, and also being medicated.”

Williamson-Pohlman’s coach, Kel Bryant, has been pivotal in her most recent successes.

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Bryant’s first encounter with Williamson-Pohlman came when he attended a day of competition boxing with one of his fighters.

As Bryant went to leave, a coachless Williamson-Pohlman entered the ring to face a much older and more experienced opponent.

“This girl came rushing past me at the doorway to the gym and nearly knocked me over,” he recalls.

“There was just something about her. A bit of an energy there.”

Bryant decided to stay and watch the fight. Despite Williamson-Pohlman getting “badly beaten”, he turned to his assistant coach and declared that he would like to coach them.

“He said, ‘what for?’ She just lost,” Bryant says.

“I said, ‘Yeah but she never gave in. She doesn’t know how to fight; wouldn’t have a clue. But she kept going. I reckon I could make a champion out of her.'”

As it happens, Bryant, who served in the military for 44 years (including 24 years as a physical trainer) has a knack for producing champions.

His gym — the not-for-profit Collingwood Youth Boxing Club — boasts 17 national titles, more than any other gym in Australia.

It’s an incredible feat given the space, when Bryant first encountered it, was decrepit, and due to be demolished.

“The floorboards were rotten,” he says.

“The ring was on a slant, the walls had been kicked in, and there were syringes everywhere. I thought, ‘it’s better than nothing.'”

As Bryant tells it, a couple of drug addicts were using the side entrance to inject. He moved them on, but invited them to come back and box once he’d cleaned the place up.

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Coach Kel Bryant has been pivotal in helping Riss make the most out of their talents.()

Bryant, who grew up in commission housing in Sydney, says he wanted it to be a place for “anybody”.

“I mostly trained people from the high rise [commission houses]. People from Richmond and Collingwood. Lots of African and Vietnamese kids,” he says.

The gym, as he puts it, gave both him and his charges a sense of belonging.

“The army saved me [from] going down the wrong road,” he says.

“A lot of my friends, it was the same old story, they’d all gone down a bad road and died of drug overdoses.

“Boxing then gave me a way to inject myself back into the civilian world.”

‘He never gave up on me’

Several weeks after watching Williamson-Pohlman get beaten in the ring, Bryant received a call about a boxer looking for a coach. The caller thought he’d be a good fit.

Hoping to retire from coaching, he says he accepted against his better judgement, not realising the boxer was Riss.

As Williamson-Pohlman tells it, many had warned Bryant not to take them on.

“People were calling him up being like, ‘don’t take her, she’s trouble.’ And I was,” they say.

“But he’s a stubborn arsehole. He was basically like, you’re telling me not to [coach her], so I’m gonna.”

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Bryant accepted the coaching role despite his ‘better judgement’.
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The professional relationship has helped Riss reach the top of their game.
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Out of the ring, Riss describes Bryant as a father figure.()

According to Bryant, the two hit it off immediately, which is not to say it was all smooth sailing.

“To be honest we’ve had a couple of blues where she’s probably been a bit of a bitch,” he says.

One of those incidents led to Bryant temporarily kicking Williamson-Pohlman out of the gym, before eventually welcoming her back.

Asked how they make it work, Bryant says he can relate.

“I was probably a bit like that myself,” he says.

“I was probably worse than her, actually.”

“I think he understood me on a deeper level”, Williamson-Pohlman says.

“And he never gave up on me.”

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Bryant has been there Riss through the toughest times as they climbed the mountain to the Olympics.()

Indeed, Bryant has been by Williamson-Pohlman’s side during the most gruelling periods.

This includes rushing to her aid after a “really bad” suicide attempt during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Williamson-Pohlman says they attempted suicide every year from age 13-19, and were in a particularly bad headspace after the end of an abusive relationship.

“The person I called to pick me up was Kel [Bryant],” she says.

“I’ve never seen anyone look so scared. He was like: ‘something’s got to change.'”

Bryant suggested Williamson-Pohlman, who was staying on their adoptive Mum’s couch at the time, move out on their own.

She cites it as a game-changer.

“It was so peaceful,” they reflect.

“I just felt like I had a space where I could think through everything, unpack and evolve.

“The solitude that you gain from being by yourself for the first time in your life, and having a really safe environment that’s yours [is massive].”

Conveniently, the apartment was situated close to Bryant’s gym in Collingwood. At first, he didn’t ask Williamson-Pohlman to set any boxing goals.

“It was just our goal to meet every day for coffee,” she says.

“So we did. And we developed this really strong bond. He’s like a father to me.”

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Moving into their own space was an important moment for Riss. ()

It’s a sentiment Bryant reciprocates.

“It was a real flourishing point,” he says.

“We’d talk about anything and everything. Not just boxing. And we became closer and closer.

“She’s like a daughter to me. I worry about her. She’s had more friction than a second hand dart board.”

‘The biggest ‘f*** you’

While living alone was an important step for Williamson-Pohlman, they have since moved back into their adoptive Mum’s house.

It’s the first time since age nine that she has lived with family.

“It’s just been a wonderful year, learning how to be a daughter,” they say.

During this period, she has returned to spend time on Ngarrindjeri country, and built strong ties with Yidinji (through their adoptive Mum) and Quandamooka mob, through Auntie LJ, one of her “favourite people in the world”.

Williamson-Pohlman has also taken on a role in the Department of Premier and Cabinet, in heritage policy at First Peoples State Relations.

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“It’s hard work being an Aboriginal person in government right now.”
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Riss has built strong ties with the Yidinji (and Quandamooka mobs.
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Riss became the first woman to win the Arthur Tunstall award.()

“It’s hard work being an Aboriginal person in government right now,” they say, reflecting on the result of the 2023 Voice referendum.

“I had mixed emotions about [the referendum]. Like, it never should have been done without consent in the first place, but obviously it sucks knowing most of the ‘no’ votes are racist.”

In the lead-up to the referendum, Williamson-Pohlman was simultaneously battling systemic racism in her chosen sport.

One of their crowning achievements, becoming the first woman to win the Arthur Tunstall award, was marred by Tunstall’s history of racism and sexism.

In 2000, as chef de mission of the Australian team, Tunstall reprimanded Cathy Freeman for choosing to carry the Aboriginal flag on her victory lap at the Sydney Olympics.

He was also ‘totally opposed’ to women’s boxing, famously stating that ‘a woman is a petite person, not to be knocked about’.

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Riss said there was some satisfaction in winning the Arthur Tunstall award, despite his history of sexism and racism.()

When asked how she felt about receiving the award, Williamson-Pohlman smiles wryly.

“To be the first one to win it, to be queer, be Blackfella, and a woman, it’s actually the biggest f*** you,” they say.

She says she wrote to Boxing Australia to ask them to change the name of the award, but had the request knocked back.

“I didn’t realise how deeply embedded the sport was in misogyny,” they reflect.

“So it just depends on what lens you take. It’s quite satisfying at the same time.

“I’m that bitch too. I love pissing people off, and I just know he’d be mad.”

“Tunstall would be rolling in his grave right now,” adds Bryant, smiling.

“I’m very proud.”

‘I thought my Olympic dream was over’

Williamson-Pohlman qualified for the Olympics by defeating Cara Wharerau in the final of the Pacific Games in November 2023.

Bryant, watching ringside, remembers being ‘covered in goosebumps’.

“As a coach, when you get those big wins, you’re quite emotional,” he says.

“There’s nothing better than that feeling.”

The feat was all the more impressive given Williamson-Pohlman had dislocated her knee just weeks earlier, and faced a nervous wait for medical clearance.

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“It was terrifying, I thought my Olympic dream was over,” they say.

“My kneecap moved about 12mm, hit the femur bone, bounced and shaved off all the cartilage in my leg and damaged the ligaments.”

What Williamson-Pohlman didn’t realise was that she had an existing MCL (medial cruciate ligament) strain, which caused the dislocation.

Competing at the Pacific Games required a number of platelet-rich plasma injections (where the athlete’s own blood cells are injected into an area requiring healing), as well as a leap of faith from Williamson-Pohlman and their treating team.

She blames the injury on the sport being amateur, which means working full-time to support her athletic career.

Over a month ago, they made the decision to step away from work, living off their savings and sponsorship money until Paris.

Previously, they had worked Monday to Friday, heading straight from work to the gym in Collingwood, training six days a week.

In Australia, boxers don’t receive funding when they qualify for the Olympics.

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The journey to the Olympics has been long and arduous …
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… and the moment to head to Paris has almost arrived.
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Whatever the result at the 2024 Olympics, Marissa Williamson-Pohlman’s journey has been one of grit, determination, and inspiration. 

“It’s not like I have [biological] parents giving me a hand,” she says.

Williamson-Pohlman, however, is up for the fight.

Elsewhere they have credited their resilience to being a “staunch Blak woman”, as well as their Aboriginal heritage.

“I don’t give up,” she says.

“I’m headstrong. If I want something, I’m gonna get it. I’m gonna work my arse off for it. And that’s every single Blackfella that I know.”

As inspirations, they cite “black matriarchs” including Lidia Thorpe, and other “strong, powerful Blak women” like their adoptive Mum.

“They’ve had to overcome so much to just get what others get handed to them,” Williamson-Pohlman says.

“So I’m like, [the Olympics] is nothing in comparison to what they do.”

Sports content to make you think… or allow you not to. A newsletter delivered each Saturday.

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#gonna #homeless #Aussie #boxer #rose #depths #despair #booking #ticket #Olympics

New clothes or a tutor? Parents making tough choices to give their kids a better life

Geetika Sharma and her husband are paying $5,000 for a nine-week private tutoring course for their year 12 daughter in Parramatta, Sydney. 

“We are prioritising our child’s education over everything else,” Ms Sharma told the ABC. 

The Sharmas are hoping their daughter will get into a science degree at university after she graduates, but said “the public school education was not working”.

“My daughter has always been very good in academics but recently her grades were dropping and her mental wellbeing was being affected.”

So the family turned to tutoring outside of school hours.

But amid the rising cost of living, difficult choices have to be made.

Geetika Sharma says she hopes her daughter will get into a bachelor of science after she graduates high school.(ABC News: Ursula Malone)

“It’s been hard for my partner and I, even while working full-time,” she said.

“We have cut down on so many other expenses in our lives. Buying new clothing and taking vacations aren’t options anymore.”

Ms Sharma said her family had also become “much more careful” with what they spend on groceries.

“We cook meals with a lot of simple ingredients like lentils and rice — anything to reduce the cost,” she said.

And eating out is something they only do for special occasions now, rather than once a weekend.

Like Ms Sharma, parents across Australia are being forced to weigh up what’s worth spending on. 

‘Tough choices’ as education costs spiral  

The financial burden of tutoring and extracurricular activities comes on top of the escalating costs of everyday education.

A 2023 study found some families were forking out up to $2,000 on back-to-school expenses, with 60 per cent of respondents paying more than $200 on “voluntary” school contributions.

The study by the Australian Council of State School Organisations also found one in five parents were using pay-later services to cover education expenses and one in four could not afford to send their kids on excursions or school camps. 

Council president Damien Ellwood said while most parents wanted the best for their children, some were being forced to make “tough choices”. 

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#clothes #tutor #Parents #making #tough #choices #give #kids #life

Sydney FC claim A-League Women championship after defeat of Melbourne City

The irrepressible Sydney FC have beaten Melbourne City 1-0 to claim a record fifth A-League Women championship, and their second in a row.

Premiers City dominated possession but super-sub Shea Connors struck in the 69th minute, brilliantly assisted by teen sensation Indiana Dos Santos, to send the Sky Blues into ecstasy.

Both teams were on four titles heading into Saturday’s clash at AAMI Park in Melbourne, which took place in front of 7671 fans.

It was the second-highest grand final attendance ever, after the 9519 in Sydney last year.

Sky Blues midfielder Mackenzie Hawkesby was named player of the match.

City right-back Bryleeh Henry was superb and Julia Grosso shut down Matildas star Cortnee Vine, while Sydney FC defenders Charlotte Mclean and Jordan Thompson kept the dangerous Hannah Wilkinson quiet.

The Melbourne side suffered a blow before the game, with goalkeeper Barbara ruled out with a quad strain.

Veteran Melissa Barbieri stepped in, with Emily Shields signed late as a back-up.

Despite her 27-year professional career and more than 80 caps for the Matildas, it was Barbieri’s first start in a grand final.

She made a sharp one-handed save to deny Thompson inside the opening minute, while her Sydney counterpart Jada Whyman was also called into action early to deny Wilkinson.

In the 11th minute, City teenager Daniela Galic bamboozled multiple Sydney defenders but her tame close-range effort was easily claimed by Whyman.

The Sky Blues almost pinched a goal at the end of the half after Stott slipped and Hawkesby pounced, but the Sydney midfielder attempted to pass rather than shoot and Henry recovered to clean up.

In the 64th minute it was City’s turn to go close, Taylor Otto dragging a shot wide of the far post.

Sydney skipper Princess Ibini set a record by playing in her eighth decider, but made way for Connors in the 67th minute – and it proved a master stroke from coach Ante Juric.

Two minutes later, a poor Rebekah Stott header fell to Shay Hollman, who worked the ball to Dos Santos.

The 16-year-old pulled off a wonderful pass to find Connors, who beat City’s defence for pace, burst forward and struck a first-time shot past Barbieri.

Dario Vidosic’s City spurned multiple good chances to equalise and were left to rue what might have been.

Hughes shot over the bar in the 79th minute, and Leticia McKenna appeared destined to score four minutes later only to be denied by a Hollman clearance over the bar.

Rhianna Pollicina should have levelled the tie in the 84th minute after a Whyman clearance fell to her, but with the goal beckoning she blasted over the bar.

Check out how the game unfolded in our liveblog below.

Key events

So long, glorious Dub

Well, it’s been an epic season. The first home-and-away season in A-League Women history, record-breaking attendances and broadcast audiences, all in the afterglow of that incredible Women’s World Cup.

I’ll have plenty more to say about how Sydney’s incredible win tonight speaks to these bigger trends and themes, but for now, it’s time to say goodbye to what has been a sensational season of Dub.

Thank you all so much for joining me on the blog today, and I’ll be seeing you again when the Matildas take on China at the end of the month.

Until then – GO SYDNEY! And cyas!

Post-game scenes

The podium has been erected on the field, with a big blue arch set up nearby behind a CHAMPIONS sign.

Sydney FC midfielder Mackenzie Hawkesby is named Player of the Match for an immense effort. She really has been the saviour of Sydney’s season in so many ways, so it’s fabulous to see her recognised.

The players of Melbourne City are now filing acrss the stage to receive medals and shake hands with a couple representatives of the A-Leagues.

They’re all looking absolutely shattered, as you’d expect. Some were in tears after the final whistle. To have come so far but have fallen short right on the brink of history has gotta hurt.

It’s the Sydney players’ turns now. They’re all wearing scarves, which they wrap around the necks of the young girls who’ve been recruited from a local club to hand out their medals.

There’s a small but vocal group of hardcore Sydney fans down one end of the field waving banners and scarves and singing for their players. Great effort from them all to travel down to watch their team defend their championship title.

Analysis corner with Big Ben

A really enjoyable match of tactics – nuts at the start as someone tried to get the early advantage – no deal. Then all tensed up for remainder of first half. Then in the second the tactical difference I think was Sydney subbing when they wanted, and Melbourne City subbing when they needed. Melbourne cracked, which lit things up nicely for the rest of the (oddly long) time. Well done ALW. Well done Sydney. Well done Connors, Well done Sam and thank you 🙂

– Big Ben

Great summary of the match here from Ben, one of the blog’s regulars.

I think you’re spot-on, Ben. The timing of Sydney’s substitution of Connors was definitely key, whereas it looked like City were maybe hedging their bets on the game going to extra-time and wanting fresh legs.

But it came back to bite ’em almost immediately.

Your reactions (to my mum??)

Drinks are on Sandye tonight! 😊🏆🍾🥂

– Leo

Sandeye….golf champ…one eyed Sky Blue…and Samantha’s Mum…some people have all the luck!!!

– stumcin

Final thoughts

As soon as the whistle blew, Sydney FC’s entire bench ran out onto the field in a dark blue wave of noise and flailing arms.

It’s almost unbelievable that they’ve won this considering the stats of this game: 28% possession, just 3 shots on target, and only one corner.

This wasn’t about trying to play football, though. This was about trying to find a single moment and capitalising. And when Melissa Barbieri mis-timed her sprint off the line, allowing Shea Connors to squeeze the ball beneath her legs, that was all the moment Sydney FC needed.

From there, it was bunkering in and trying to survive the storm of a City side who realised, finally, that they were playing in a grand final, and that grand finals require something else than what got them the premiership.

They tried – god knows, they tried – and those final, endless minutes of extra time were panic-stations, throwing everything they could at a team that had defended so brilliantly all game, trying to create moments of their own.

They had some, but the players who you’d usually expect to grasp them – Rhianna Pollicina, Emina Ekic, Laura Hughes – tonight, simply, couldn’t.

By the end, it was the team who’s battled through wars of their own, who weathered the ups and downs of the whole season and came out the other side champions.

Sydney FC can now lay claim to being the most successful team in A-League Women history. A fifth championship to match their five premierships. And they did it, this season, with the youngest team in the league. Is there any team who will ever be able to do what they’ve done again? I doubt it.

My mum won golf AND her team won the Dub grand final

the double!! woo hoo! well done SFC!

– Sandye

She’s your lucky charm, Sydney fans!!!

FULL-TIME: SYDNEY FC WIN 1-0!

THE SKY BLUES DEFEND THEIR A-LEAGUE WOMEN CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE!

96′ Everyone’s up!

City’s formation is basically a 5-4-1, having thrown as many as they can risk forward to try and find a last-ditch equaliser.

But the final pass just isn’t there. They’ve sent dozens of corners into Sydney’s penalty area, but none of them have been met by a team-mate. They’ve tried to squeeze and wriggle and pass their way through and behind and around, but they just can’t find someone to twist the final knife.

One thing’s for sure: this has been a hell of an impressive mature performance by Sydney. The youngest team in the league, a team that wasn’t favoured to take this out, but who, somehow, find themselves on the brink of a fifth championship title.

93′ Crash-and-bash

Melbourne City are running out of ideas. Sydney’s dark blue wall has held firm all game, anchored by the excellent Jordan Thompson and Charlotte McLean, and they just haven’t been able to find a crack.

So they’re just throwing themselves at Sydney’s players now. Taylor Otto isn’t a centre-back anymore, she’s a miscellaneous midfielder, using her height and strength to try and crash her way through Sydney’s defence.

It’s route-one balls from City at this point, over the top or through, just trying to create any possible half-opening that they could swing a hopeful foot at.

But Sydney are holding. And holding. And holding. Sometimes, they nick the ball away to a Cortnee Vine or a Mackenzie Hawkesby, who pump their tired legs to try and move it away from their own goal. But mostly they’re just sitting deep and trying to protect this lead.

9 minutes of added time

Where the HECK did that come from!?

Who cares! It’s time for chaos.

88′ City keep coming!!

Now we have a game…Melbourne City are throwing the kitchen sink!

– stumcin

Sydney FC need to be careful going into the late stages of the game, Melbourne City are desperate for the equaliser and will no doubt capitalise on any and every chance they get.

– Adam

Wave after wave of attack as they try to equalise!

Sydney are scrambling – trying to hold their nerve, stay calm and structured – but a single wrong step or bad decision could spell the end.

City are slicker now, faster, sharper in their angles and movements.

Galic nips the ball away from a sloppy Abbey Lemon and dinks it back over Whyman’s diving hands, trying desperately to find Emina Ekic at the back post, but it flies just over her leaping ponytail.

The crowd is up now, getting louder, trying to push the home side on. The minutes are slipping away. There’s not long left to keep their double hopes alive.

85′ Chance City!!

The home side attack again with some strong individual work from Daniela Galic in the box, slipping the ball through three Sydney defenders to McKenna on the right wing.

She clips a cross backwards, over the top of Sydney’s pack of defenders, and although Whyman gets a glove to the ball to slap it away, it falls right to the feet of Rhianna Pollicina.

She has nobody around her – she just needs to wait for the ball to fall perfectly – but her eventual shot flies over the crossbar instead.

She puts her head in her hands. That was the biggest chance she’s had all night. Should have buried it.

83′ CHANCE CITY!

OH MY GOODNESS!

The resulting free-kick is beautifully dipping towards the back post, and falls perfectly to Leticia McKenna.

The substitute takes a touch inside onto her left foot and rifles a shot towards goal.

Jada Whyman is already flying across to stop it but the ball is going above her, but Shay Hollman leaps into the air and heads it right over the crossbar.

The young midfielder celebrates like she’d scored. She just prevented an almost-guaranteed equaliser. Incredible.

82′ Yellow card Sydney

Tori Tumeth got turned around by Daniela Galic near the sideline and, in response, the Sydney defender just clambers into the City teenager and the two tumble into the ground.

It looks like Tumeth slipped slightly in the turf, but the referee didn’t see it, instead giving her the second yellow card of the game.

Galic is furious, she stands over Tumeth intimidatingly as a team-mate tries to get in the way to stop it from getting any more heated.

The players disperse to get ready for the free-kick.

79′ Chance City

Rhianna Pollicina almost breaks through Sydney’s defensive line, but Charlotte McLean does well to scramble back and sling a leg in the way to scoop the ball away from the City midfielder.

But it’s not quite enough and it falls straight to (I think) Laura Hughes, who cuts inside and takes a few steps towards the top of the box before rocketing a shot well over the crossbar.

78′ City 0 – 1 Sydney

There’s some chat in the media box about who’s been the Player of the Match.

It’s been a tough one considering this has been an arm-wrestle of a game, with neither team really having any clear stand-outs.

Daniela Galic has shown flashes of brilliance for City, but Sydney have been really sturdy in midfield with Mackenzie Hawkesby and Shay Hollman in particular.

Who do you reckon has been the MVP so far, team? Help us do the votes.

77′ City substitution

Leticia McKenna comes on for Hannah Wilkinson.

Official attendance: 7,671

It’s the second-highest crowd for an A-League Women grand final in history, though you’d have to think it should have been much higher considering some of the numbers we’ve seen throughout the season.

Your goal reactions!

Brilliant substitution! Great ball from Indiana! ⚽️😊

– Leo

Through pass on target! Neatly done, smart subbing.

– Big Ben

What a time to score your first goal for the season….We got Connors… Super Shea Connors!

– stumcin

GOALLL!!!!!! Yes!!!!!

– M

72′ City win a corner

The home side have sprung to life and immediately are on the counter, trying to equalise.

Hannah Wilkinson, who’s not done heaps this half, is suddenly up and about, dancing through Sydney’s defenders towards the by-line before clipping a ball off Jordan Thompson for a corner.

The ball is taken short and swung back in towards Jada Whyman, who’s crowded out by a couple players, and the ball bounces off a Sydney head before she scrambles to clutch it in her gloves.

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#Sydney #claim #ALeague #Women #championship #defeat #Melbourne #City

Queer Sporting Alliance boosting gender diversity in sport

In March this year, the Queer Sporting Alliance (QSA) took out the Outstanding Contribution to Sport Award at the Victorian Pride Awards.

The QSA is Australia and New Zealand’s largest LGBTIQA+ sporting club, and the award recognises its ongoing efforts to provide queer-friendly sporting environments and events.

They have included Australia’s first and largest queer basketball tournament, which featured more than 180 players from around Australia and took place on Wurundjeri Country in the northern suburbs of Naarm/Melbourne in January 2024.

The QSA’s focus is on participation and creating a space for those who have previously been excluded from sport.

The QSA focuses on creating safe spaces for those who have previously been excluded from sport. (Supplied: Kirsty Marshall)

Some participants had not played basketball in many years before the tournament, and for some it was their first time stepping onto a court.

The tournament, and all QSA programs, welcome queer folk as well as straight allies.

“It was like Mardi Gras but for gays who love sport,” participant Jethro Athlas said.

“It was my dream come true.”

QSA president Stella Lesic said the tournament was significant because it ensured players of any gender identity could participate.

Queer Sporting Alliance President Stella Lesic defends the basketball

Queer Sporting Alliance president Stella Lesic said the tournament did not require players to out themselves.(Supplied: Monique Clarke)

“The tournament didn’t require any player to out themselves [unless they wanted to] or have a referee assume their gender for the purpose of applying mixed/gendered basketball rules,” they said.

“Particularly for players taking steps to gender affirmation or who have experienced transphobia in sport, our tournament and the QLeague are game-changing.

“For the first time in basketball’s history, players could just play.”

Associate professor Ada Cheung is a clinician, scientist and endocrinologist specialising in the treatment of transgender individuals and sees the benefits the QSA brings to the community.

“What QSA does is beneficial, not just for queer people, but for everybody,” she says.

“[At] the grassroots level, there needs to be much more of a focus on participation [for gender diverse people].”

Woman with short hair wearing a red shirt and black jacket, sitting in an office.

Ada Cheung says there should be more focus on the participation of gender diverse people in sport. (ABC News)

Bringing queer people back to basketball

Athlas started basketball at 11 years old and played until they came out as non-binary at 23.

“I felt I couldn’t show up as me with the binary rules of a regular competition and I didn’t have many other queer friends at the time to make a team that felt safe,” they said.

Fellow tournament participant Leigh Seelie had a similar story of dropping out of sport after coming out as trans.

“I played on and off during my adulthood and stopped around four years ago as I started to transition,” she said.

“I did not feel that the captain of my team would accept me as they had made a number of transphobic posts on Facebook.

“I did not find a new team as I was concerned about how people would react to me playing and I did not want to be spotlighted.

“When the [QSA] tournament came up, I was very excited to play … It felt like a great opportunity to play a sport I loved again.”

The referee awards a four point shot in the QSA basketball tournament

Many QSA tournament participants have similar stories of dropping out of mainstream sport. (Supplied: Kirsty Marshall)

While at first Seelie felt “overwhelmed” about playing in the tournament after time away from the game, she said her team made her feel very welcome.

“I felt a huge amount of joy just being able to be me and play a game I loved,” she said.

With more than 1,000 members registered around Australia, the QSA has also seen an influx of straight, cisgender men and women joining the club.

“QLeague is a joy,” QSA regular and ally Greg Craske said.

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Matildas triumph 3-0 over Uzbekistan in first Olympic qualifier

Michelle Heyman has scored her first international goal in almost eight years to inspire a 3-0 victory over Uzbekistan and drag the Matildas one step closer to a place at the Paris Olympics.

In their first match since superstar skipper Sam Kerr tore her ACL in January, Australia understandably missed one of the world’s best strikers at the Milliy Stadium in Tashkent.

The Matildas were scratchy and lacked cohesion, while Emily van Egmond had a horror night up forward, missing one sitter and failing to convert two other chances she would normally bury.

Coach Tony Gustavsson turned to Canberra United star Heyman, 35, to replace van Egmond off the bench in the 65th minute, and the veteran delivered just eight minutes later.

In her first appearance since 2018, Heyman headed home her 21st goal for Australia and her first since netting twice against Zimbabwe at the Rio Olympics on August 9, 2016.

Mary Fowler, who was wonderful in the second half, scored a sublime individual goal in the 84th minute, and Caitlin Foord headed home in the 86th to seal victory.

It means Australia will head into Wednesday’s second leg at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium with a crucial 3-0 lead in the tie.

Debutant Kaitlyn Torpey started on the wing, wearing Kerr’s number 20 but was hooked for Foord, who was having her game time managed, at half-time.

Australia had 75 per cent of possession in the first half but just four shots and one on target, but they finished with 26 (eight on target).

They should have taken the lead in the 21st minute when Torpey tried to square for van Egmond instead of shooting.

Hayley Raso dragged a first-time strike wide on the half-hour mark, and shortly afterwards van Egmond hooked over the bar.

Just before half-time, van Egmond failed to get a header on target from point-blank range.

In the 54th minute, Fowler curled a wonderful ball behind the Uzbekistan defence and van Egmond inexplicably failed to tap home.

Heyman headed over the bar a minute after coming on, then delivered the lead when she nodded a corner onto the bar before following up with a second header.

Fowler then intercepted a clearance with a wonderful first touch, weaved between defenders and ripped a fantastic long-range strike inside the near post.

Foord found space and turned home a Steph Catley cross to wrap up proceedings.

Check out how all the action unfolded in our live blog below.

Key events

Final thoughts

 First of all: whew.

That first half was pretty rusty, as expected, but Tony Gustavsson’s substitutes gave the Matildas exactly the energy and dynamism they needed to unlock what had been, until then, a very solid Uzbekistan defence.

Michelle Heyman will be absolutely buzzing, scoring her first goal since 2016 upon her return to the national team after a four-year retirement, while Mary Fowler and the excellent Caitlin Foord added goals two and three.

You’d have to think the Canberra striker is a lock to start in the second leg in Melbourne on Wednesday: she provided Australia with a target player, height, power, and important movement to bring other players into the game around her.

Now that they’ve made it through this chilly first game, the Matildas return home with wind in their sails and a 3-0 advantage, which is exactly what they would have wanted.

Thanks so much for joining me on the blog for tonight’s game, and I can’t wait to be back here on Wednesday as we see whether the gals can qualify for their third Olympic Games in a row!

See you then!

Full-time: Uzbekistan 0 – 3 Australia

Crowd numbers

Robbie Thompson has said the crowd in Tashkent is just under 2,500 people.

As of today, almost the entirety of Marvel Stadium is sold out for Wednesday’s second leg.

The Uzbekistan players won’t be ready for noise like that, I reckon.

Permutations

What happens if Tillies win tonight and Uzbekistan wins Wednesday night? Who goes to Paris?

– EveWintergreen

It depends on how much Uzbekistan hypothetically win by.

If Australia finish this game 3-0 winners, Uzbekistan would need to win at least 4-0 in Melbourne on Wednesday to qualify for Paris.

90′ Three minutes of time added on

Same, honestly

UZB’s goalie kicking the ball back in the net after the third goal is so real. I would be so frustrated

– Em for Matildas

89′ Australia substitution

Ellie Carpenter comes off for Charlie Grant.

Catchy!

The song we sing here, Hey hey Heyman ooohh ahhh, I wanna know if you’ll kick that goal!

– Canberra is cool

Yiew!!!

And again ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️
Mary Fowler

– Vic in Vic

HaHAAAAAA! Heyman + Fowler

– Big Ben

Mary Mary Mary you beaute

– Em for Matildas

Just my luck. I step out to put stuff in the fridge, and the Tillies score a goal. Belated Hooray, anyway!

– SeonaBath

Floodgates open. Thanks Caitlin! ⚽️💚💛

– Leo

85′ GOAL AUSTRALIA

Caitlin Foord makes it three!

The Matildas have been trying this move all night: a winger chipping a pass in behind Uzbekistan’s defenders to find the head of an attacking player, and this time Caitlin Foord is there, all alone, to nod home a perfectly-weighted cross from Steph Catley.

3-0!

Hail Mary!

Mary Fowler you superstar! 😍⚽️💚💛

– Leo

83′ GOAL AUSTRALIA!

MAGIC MARY FOWLER MAKES IT TWO!

The midfielder has been chipping away at Uzbekistan’s defenders all night, and this time she just goes route one: picking up the ball in deep midfield and dancing past three players all by herself.

She skates towards the top of the box and steadies herself, unleashing her lethal right foot through the rubber to send a shot low and hard across the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner of the net.

2-0!!!

82′ Australia substitutions

Aivi Luik replaces Alanna Kennedy, while Tameka Yallop comes on for Hayley Raso.

80′ Chance Australia!

Goodness me, that was almost a bizarre second goal for the Matildas.

A long, dipping cross from Mary Fowler far out on the left wing is falling perfectly into the Zone Of Hesitation between Caitlin Foord and Uzbekistan’s goalkeeper, with both of them thinking the other was going to touch it, only for neither of them to get it at all.

Instead, the ball bounces past all of them and a gasp goes around the ground as it almost nestles into the far corner of the net, but bounces just wide instead.

77′ Matildas want a second

They’ve been attacking Uzbekistan in waves for the past five minutes, coming in at all angles and trying to keep the tempo and pressure up on their opponents.

Catley’s corners have been on-point all night, and are looking like Australia’s best attacking weapon at the moment. Alanna Kennedy could have nodded home the Matildas’ second goal a few minutes ago, but she mistimed her jump. Clare Hunt did the same just now.

You’d think they’ll be working a bit more on finishing their headers in the interim before the second leg of this series on Wednesday night, but wouldn’t it be great to snag one or two more goals here so that the pressure is off in Melbourne?

I sure would love that.

Woohoo!!!!

YYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!

– Natty

Finally ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️ Michelle Hayman

– Vic in Vic

Oh Michelle! I’m in tears! ⚽️💚💛😍

– Leo

CRYING SCREAMING THROWING UP I AM SO HAPPY

– Em for Matildas

Finally! Tillies score off a corner in how long? Thank you Ms Heyman and welcome back.

– Big Ben

72′ GOAL AUSTRALIA!

MICHELLE HEYMAN SCORES IN HER COMEBACK GAME!

A brilliant corner from Steph Catley angles in towards the front post, bobbling off Heyman’s shoulder and clanging off the crossbar.

It could have deflected anywhere, but it fell straight back to her, and she nodded it over the scrambling Uzbekistan defender on the line and into the net.

1-0!

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Michelle Heyman’s Matildas recall highlights Australian football’s striker problem

When news broke in January that Matildas captain Sam Kerr had torn her ACL, keeping her on the sidelines of the sport for the better part of the next year, a question that had been simmering in the background of Australian women’s football for the past few years suddenly reached boiling-point.

How can the country’s greatest ever goal-scorer be replaced? Which player is ready to step into the 30-year-old’s golden shoes? Who is next in the production-line of Australian strikers?

This question was being asked even when Kerr was fit and healthy. Since the 2019 Women’s World Cup, doubts were festering that the Matildas had become too reliant on the Chelsea forward, and that the team struggled to find the back of the net without her.

Sam Kerr’s ACL injury has put a spotlight on Australian football’s ongoing struggle to develop strikers.(AAP Image: Richard Wainwright)

The 2022 Women’s Asian Cup quarterfinal against South Korea was a case in point: Kerr started that game and had a handful of open-net chances which, for some reason, she failed to finish. The Matildas lost 1-0 and exited the competition at the earliest point in their history.

The question was the subtext to Kerr’s calf injury on the eve of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, too: how on earth would the team perform without their star player? Who else do we have waiting in the wings to take over?

While head coach Tony Gustavsson was able to rapidly shuffle the team’s structure and rely more on other players like Caitlin Foord, Hayley Raso, Mary Fowler and Emily Van Egmond to step up in her place, Kerr’s memorable goal against England in the semifinal — the only bright spark in an otherwise fatigued performance from the rest of the team — left many wondering how much further the Matildas could have gone had she been available the whole time.

But there is no day-by-day countdown clock on Kerr’s return now, as there was last July. Today, we have certainty that she won’t make a miraculously speedy recovery to be fully fit for the Olympic qualifying play-off against Uzbekistan in about two weeks, nor for the Olympic Games in Paris in just five months’ time. The question has now come into full and urgent focus.

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Socceroos lose to South Korea in extra time of quarterfinal to be eliminated from Asian Cup

The Socceroos have crashed out of the Asian Cup in heartbreaking fashion, suffering a dramatic 2-1 extra-time loss to South Korea after throwing away a 1-0 lead in Qatar.

Craig Goodwin gave Australia the lead when he volleyed home in the 42nd minute in front of 39,632 fans at the Al Janoub Stadium.

Australia then spurned multiple chances to double their lead before a nightmare stint off the bench from right-back Lewis Miller, and two big moments from Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min turned the game in South Korea’s favour.

With Graham Arnold’s charges up 1-0 deep into stoppage time, Miller needlessly dived in late on South Korea’s superstar captain Son, giving away a penalty.

Hwang Hee-chan coolly slammed the spot-kick into the top corner in the seventh minute of injury time to take the game to extra-time.

In the 104th minute, Miller then brought down Hwang on the edge of the area, only for Spurs’ Son to lift a wonderful free kick into the top corner to put South Korea in front.

Australia’s hopes of a comeback were then made all but impossible minutes after the goal when they were reduced to 10 men.

Aiden O’Neill lunged in to attempt to win the ball and caught Hwang with his studs, with his initial yellow card upgraded to a straight red after a VAR referral.

South Korea comfortably saw out the game from there to send Australia packing and tee up a semi-final against Jordan, who beat Tajikistan 1-0 earlier on Friday local time.

For the Koreans, the result partly avenged their 2-1 extra-time loss to the Socceroos in the 2015 Asian Cup final in Sydney. 

Check out how the match unfolded in our live blog below.

Key events

Final thoughts

Thanks Sam. A disappointing, but not unexpected result. The Socceroos gave all that they had.

Will you be blogging the Tillies v Uzbekistan Olympic qualifier?

– Mark

Football can be a cruel game, and this is one of the cruellest Socceroos games I can remember.

They were literally a minute away from a heroic 1-0 win over South Korea, only for Lewis Miller’s panicked slide tackle in the box handing their opponents a comeback on a platter.

Hwang Hee-Chan’s penalty took the wind out of Australia’s sails, as did the straight red card to Aiden O’Neill after a dangerous tackle on Hee-Chan in the first stanza of extra-time, taking the Socceroos down to ten.

From there, the team faded and faded. Overall, South Korea were good for this win, but Australia will know that this is an enormous opportunity missed, and will linger in the heads and their hearts for a while.

South Korea now progress to the Asian Cup semi-final against Jordan, while the Socceroos will debrief and then go back to their clubs.

There will be plenty of conversation in the coming days about this game and this tournament, but all I’ll say for now is that I am really proud of how the Socceroos played tonight: they did what they do best, showing us the grit and the fight that captured the whole country in 2022.

Like then, it was a joy to bring you their journey here. I’ll be back on the ABC Sport liveblog later this month to cover the Matildas’ Olympic qualifying games against Uzbekistan, which I hope you’ll join me for.

Until then!

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Full time: Australia 1 – 2 South Korea

119′ Chance Korea!

Son Heung-min picks up the ball on half-way and just… jogs forward towards Australia’s defence, with no yellow shirts flooding back with urgency.

He has so much time to choose what to do here as three team-mates flood around. He opts left, sending a perfectly-weighted pass angled left into the box, and his team-mate rockets a shot towards the far post… only for Mat Ryan to throw two big hands at it and palm it away.

The ball rolls out to the other Korean winger, who tries to fire it over Ryan who’s still splayed out in the grass, but somehow it spins out for a goal kick.

Incredible keeping.

116′ Long bombs

Both teams are just pinging the ball over the top of each other’s defences now, hoping one of their fresh-legged forwards can speed in behind the slowing centre-backs and nick a goal.

It’s pretty rudimentary stuff, though. A ball floats in, and is headed away by a centreback. It’s hoofed up-field, only for the opposing centre-back to head it away. It’s been like this for a few minutes as both teams try to figure out what on earth else they can do.

114′ Referee error!

A lovely cross-field pass out to the left for the charging Aziz Behich sees the full-back bring it down beautifully before turning and aiming for a through-ball, but the referee whistles the game dead and points for a free kick to… Korea.

What? The referee gestures for a handball on Behich, but the replay shows the ball was nowhere near either of his arms.

That was such a shame: the Socceroos could’ve carved a rare opening with that run down the wing, but the ref has decided otherwise.

111′ Mat Ryan still flyin’

The Socceroos captain is still on his toes, even if most of his team-mates aren’t anymore.

Australia’s players are making more and more mistakes as they fatigue and lose concentration, but lucky for them Ryan is still wide-awake.

He snapped a shot out of the air a minute ago, and just came sprinting out of his box to calmly collect a through-ball with his foot before passing neatly to a team-mate.

Son Heung-min found too much space a moment later, opening up his body as a sliding Behich came across, but he hooked his shot just wide as Ryan was ready for it to come at him.

So at least we’ve got that.

108′ Behich is down

He’s run a marathon in this game, has Aziz.

Somehow he’s found himself up near Korea’s box, throwing himself around, trying anything to get a foot on the ball and send a cross in.

He tries to work with Bruno Fornaroli, but the ball just doesn’t settle. It’s hoofed into his stomach, and he tries his best to loft the deflection over the Korean defenders and towards the six-yard box, but it floats harmlessly into the goalkeeper’s hands.

Behich then leans down into the grass and clutches at his stomach. Winded, maybe? He gets up and jogs gingerly away a moment later after the Koreans had lumped the ball out so he could receive attention.

He looks cooked.

106′ Big Man Up Top

Harry Souttar is a centre-forward now.

If you were wondering what Graham Arnold’s “break glass in case of emergency” plan was.

Second half of extra time kick off!

105′ South Korea substitutions

Park Yong-Woo is replaced by Park Jin-seop.

Hwang Hee-Chan, who’s been epic in this match, comes off for Oh Hyeon-gyu.

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