Matildas fail to qualify for East Asian Cup

The Australian women's soccer team were unable to give long-serving coach Tom Sermanni the farewell they sought as they fell short of qualifying for the East Asian Cup with a 2-1 loss to China.

Goals to Wang Li Si and Zhang Rui bookended Katie Gill's first half strike in Shenzen on Saturday night to take the hosts through to next year's regional showpiece in the Korea Republic at the expense of the youthful Matildas.

The qualifying tournament was Sermanni's last at the helm before he departs to take charge of the Olympic champion United States women's team.

Sermanni was proud of the way his players fought to the end and believed the outcome was not too unexpected for a young team rebuilding early in its World Cup cycle.

"It was a tough game and typical of the kind of games that we play up in Asia, where there's usually one goal in it either way," said Sermanni.

"I feel a bit disappointed for the players..they really pushed and pushed to the end.


"I think the key thing is consistency. You've really got to take a step back at times and particularly in this phase of preparation when you're talking about national teams.

"If you look at the team there's still a lot of teenagers in there, a lot of players who have played very, very few caps and they're still working out how to play."

Sermanni was still coming to terms with leaving the team after two stints totalling 10 years in charge.

"It's difficult to really describe in words, it's a little bit surreal," he said.

"It's very sad, a little bit sentimental.

"It's been more than a job for me. For eight years players have come into the team, you've seen players go on to the next stage of their life and when you've been with this team, it's more than just about football.

"That's the contact I'll miss, with this national team you're 24/7 and I'll miss that."

The hosts posted the match opener inside 10 minutes when Wang unleashed a well-weighted shot that had returning Matildas goalkeeper Brianna Davey well beaten.

Striker Gill's response three minutes later was indicative of her recent form for Perth Glory as she showed great poise to finish from close range after wingback Caitlin Foord had made a 60 metre run and delivered a pinpoint cross.

Australia started the second half the stronger of the two teams but were caught out by a sucker punch on 50 minutes.

China's midfield standout Zhang was quickest to react in the penalty area when the Matildas' defence failed to clear a loose ball.