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Matildas rue missed chances in Asian Cup final

Interim Matildas coach Alen Stajcic has hailed the improvement in his side but said more was needed at next year's World Cup after steering Australia to second spot in the women's Asian Cup in Vietnam.

Stajcic offered no clues as to whether he wants to stay on after defending champions Australia suffered an unlucky 1-0 loss to world champions Japan in the final in Ho Chi Minh City early on Monday (AEST).

They created more chances, but lacked the finishing touch that delivered nine goals in their four earlier games.

Japan had lost each of their four previous Asian Cup finals, but ended that run after Azusa Iwashimizu scored from a 28th-minute corner.

Sydney FC W-League coach Stajcic only took over the Matildas' post from Hesterine de Reus in mid-April.

By reaching the semi-finals, Australia qualified for next year's World Cup in Canada.


"I'm extremely proud of the players," Stajcic said. "The amount they have improved in the last three or four weeks has been outstanding to the point where they are pushing the world champions right to the end.

"We do have to improve a little bit if we want to beat them in the World Cup next year. Six out of the 11 in our starting line-up were 21 or under. We've got a youthful team and they will get a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience from a match like that."

Stajcic was not immediately interested in lobbying for a permanent appointment in the aftermath of the final.

"I'm not really thinking about that at the moment," he said. "That's a discussion for another day."

He lamented missed chances, including three before Japan's first meaningful attempt. Recalled Sam Kerr blasted over from seven metres after just 30 seconds and had another chance a few minutes later following a misdirected backpass. Michelle Heyman headed straight at the goalkeeper following a flowing, multi-pass move.

Iwashimuzu's goal came during a spell of sustained pressure from Japan. Megumi Takase had two attempts saved by goalkeeper Lydia Williams.

The Matildas rallied in the last few minutes before half-time and maintained their urgency after the break.

Heyman fired in a strong, 20-metre shot and twice just failed to make contact a few metres out, while Kerr had a goal rubbed out for offside and Lisa De Vanna also went close.

"Just a little bit of luck evaded us and that little bit of execution," Stajcic said.

"Unfortunately, you don't get a goal or a point for chances created, but we certainly looked dangerous and threatened throughout the game. They left nothing in the tank and ran themselves into the ground.

"Japan had their two or three chances and put one away. I just thought they controlled the ball a little bit better at crucial times."