Canberra plays for pride in finale
Canberra United will chase a $10,000 prize and a winning end to its Japanese tour and coach Jitka Klimkova is confident her young squad can rebound from its soccer lesson at the inaugural Women's Club Championship.
The W-League champions play- off for third and fourth on Sunday when they take on NTV Beleza in the competition between four of the world's best women's sides.
Canberra was thrashed 4-0 in the opening match against INAC Kobe Leonessa - a powerhouse of the Japanese competition - on Thursday night.
But while the team failed to find its groove against a host of international stars, Klimkova is determined to avoid returning home empty-handed.
''We are still young, this is a great experience for our girls,'' Klimkova said.
''Everyone realises we are still a little bit far away from the world level of football. If we want to play top-quality games, we know if we can train [more professionally] we can do it.
''This trip is teaching us how to get better … A win would be amazing, the bonus and the icing on the cake.
''I see our team is ready to fight again and I can promise we will fight to leave Japan with a win.''
The brief tournament will end after United's clash with NTV Beleza, who lost to France's Olympique Lyonnais in the opening round.
Canberra started the international challenge with the hope of returning to the capital with a large chunk of the $97,000 prize purse.
With third place offering $10,000 and fourth position earning nothing for their efforts, United hopes it can still secure a financial boost.
But the overseas trip wasn't about coming back with money.
Instead, Klimkova wanted to give her youngsters experience against professional players and return to the W-League ready to defend their title.
The young side was thrown into an international cauldron.
Goalkeeper Trudy Burke had just two W-League games under her belt before defending the net against Homare Sawa - the women's world player of the year.
''INAC Kobe Leonessa is an amazing team and they controlled the ball for 70 or 80 per cent of the game, they were all over the field,'' Klimkova said.
''To lose is the result, but on the other side is our performance and we put everything out there. We did what we could.
''This team we have is different to the one that won the W-League, we're younger and our goal is to develop the local Canberra girls so we can be better for the future.
''I'm really satisfied, I think this is a great lesson for us and we came here for the experience.''
United's hopes of ending the Japan trip with a win could be hampered after World Cup-winner Ariane Hingst suffered a calf injury.
It is hoped the veteran defender will be available to play in United's W-League match when the team returns.
Sally Shipard replaced Hingst and played the second half, but Klimkova will wait to see how the star midfielder's problematic knees recover before declaring her a starter against NTV Beleza.
Canberra United v NTV Beleza at Urawa Komaba Stadium, Japan, 1.30pm.