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Opinion

Time for wilting Matildas to go back to the drawing board

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The biggest concern about the Matildas' double debacle at the hands of Germany and the Netherlands in the space of four days is the suspicion that they might not be as good as we think they are.

A 5-0 defeat to the 'Oranje' in Nijmegen has compounded the Australians' misery after the weekend 5-2 loss to the 'Nationalelf' in Wiesbaden.

On both occasions Tony Gustavsson's players showed a glaring lack of skill, speed, cohesion and confidence to be able to face their super talented opponents on equal terms.

To their credit the Matildas never stopped trying against the Dutch but the gulf in individual and collective class was there for all to see.

It was the Matildas' worst defeat since crashing 5-0 against China in a friendly in 2008 and the first time they conceded five goals in consecutive matches since they twice lost 5-0 to Sweden in 1995.

A run of strong performances and impressive results under previous coach Alen Stajcic who was inexplicably and unceremoniously dumped two years ago made the Matildas one of Australia's most popular national teams.

But the aggressive and entertaining play provided at the time seemed an eternity ago as captain Sam Kerr's team struggled to live with the lively Dutch, who are ranked fourth in the world and will take part in the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics that will feature 12 teams.

The Australians must be hoping they avoid the formidable Dutch in the group stage.

At this point you wonder if the Matildas game has stagnated in the last couple of years while several European countries have made a leap forward, even allowing for the fact that the Australians team was inactive for 13 months.

You wonder, too, if as a football community we are putting the Matildas under unnecessary pressure by expecting too much from them.

When a team is comprehensively beaten by a far superior opponent it is unfair to single out players for blame.

The Matildas were thrashed because their chaotic defence could not cope with an exciting attack that caught the eye with some beautiful interplay.

They also failed to gain any momentum because they gave the ball away so many times that when occasionally they strung more than three passes together it almost came as a surprise.

There also was no set pattern in attack because their forays up front seemed aimless at best and totally ineffective at worst.

They never looked like scoring, as opposed to the Dutch who were threatening whenever they got their attack going.

So it is back to the drawing board for Gustavsson and his Matildas.

This is not the time to panic over two such debilitating defeats that will come as a psychological blow to the team.

The Matildas have not become a bad team all of a sudden so maybe we should let them find their feet in their own time, let them know we are behind them but not burden them with unrealistic expectations.

Source SBS The World Game