Fourth place puts Aussie football on the map
Posted: 29-Jul-2013 by Maccabiah
The side achieved its goal of making the medal play-off thanks to a run of three wonderful wins over Holland, Germany and Argentina. The stunning 0-0 draw against Canada – who drew with the highly fancied USA – was the vital point that put the green and gold into the bronze medal game. Indeed, but for a contentious call in a 2-3 loss to Israel, the girls could have even dared to dream of gold.
Once the dust settles, the success of coming fourth will hit home for a side who have come on leaps and bounds in four years, paved the way for the next generation of girls to aspire to and flew the flag for Australian football at these 19th Maccabiah Games.
“I’m just proud of what they’ve achieved, they’ve made women’s football at Maccabi (in Australia) credible,” said section manager Sydney Kahn, who has overseen the last three international trips for this side.
“Although everyone says winning is everything – and today it is – they’ve put it on the map and younger girls in the future will want to be part of this team.
“The girls are already talking about Chile, the next Pan America Games.
“There’s confidence, motivation, pride in what they’ve achieved. We’ve been beaten on the day by a better side.
“Originally our objective, realistically, was to get into the bronze medal play-off. Every time you achieve, you then aim a little bit higher.”
Today’s contest in Jerusalem started in bizarre circumstances, with kick-off delayed by 45 minutes, and our girls also took time to get going in the debilitating heat.
Canada were an imposing unit, with an ability to burst down the flanks and cut holes in defence with incisive passing.
But they only went into the sheds 1-0 up. While they looked threatening out wide, Australia’s spine remained competitive throughout the contest. Rachel Bach and Laura Waltman can take a bow for their work in the heart of defence; they won almost every 50/50 ball on the deck. Sure, booming long balls caused trouble, but the core of Waltman (WA), Bach (VIC) and Amy Seskin in goal (NSW) was the bedrock of this team.
Seskin was again at the fore with two top drawer saves from close range in the first period.
Ash Rabie and Nat Court grew into the game as the half wore on; Court was committed as ever, throwing herself into challenges, while Rabie’s passing ability almost unlocked the Canadian back-four on a couple of occasions.
Up front, Carly Vinokur has had a wonderful tournament and she looked lively again today. Unfortunately she was too isolated and had too much work to do on her own. But she tried as ever, and the side’s best chance of the game came when she almost got on the end of a cross from Sophie Weisz on the left flank.
Mark Abro and his assistant, Australian Jewish football legend Jon Pillemer, implored their side to keep the faith in the second period.
In the face of a powerful opponent, they did just that, and even enjoyed the better run of things for a 10-15 period mid-way through the half.
But, as happens in football, as the game opened up, the heavyweight flexed their muscles. With more space, the Canadians ruthlessly put away two more. If not for some excellent scramble defence from Bach, Claudia Lowy, and then Romy Sacks, they may well have applied even more pressure on Seskin’s goal.
While disappointed to leave with nothing tangible, the girls can take heart knowing they have been a revelation during the 10 days of this competition – rebounding brilliantly after the loss to USA on day one.
The girls’ success is a great example of what can be achieved on a national platform at Maccabi, with a long term vision in mind.
– Words and pictures, David Weiner.
Tune in to 107.9fm this Saturday for Australian Coach Mark Abro in the studio and Laura Waltman on the line between 10-1030am Perth time.